Newlyweds Lewis Bennett, 38, and Isabella Hellmann, 41, were sailing from Cuba to the Bahamas on their sun-drenched honeymoon in May when something went terribly wrong.
According to earlier reports, the couple, who left their infant daughter behind to take the trip, were enjoying time on their yacht on May 15 until the small boat mysteriously started to sink.Screenshot/Twitter
Bennett told police that he was asleep onboard when he awoke to the boat crashing and water pouring in. The 38-year-old said that his wife of three months was nowhere to be seen.
The husband then grabbed his personal belongings and jumped aboard a life raft before contacting the U.S. Coast Guard.
Rescuers found the 38-year-old and pulled him — and his “usually heavy” backpack — to safety.
The loving mother of his child, Hellmann, was never seen again.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) May 17, 2017
The Coast Guard spent three days searching thousands of miles for the missing woman without finding her. On May 18, they officially called off the the search.
The 41-year-old mother was declared “lost at sea,” and Bennett asked authorities to issue a “letter of presumed death,” according to earlier reports.
Bennett told the Daily Mail:
“It is now two weeks since she has been missing, so I am not holding out much hope of seeing her so I have to come to terms with that. This is absolutely devastating for me. She is my soul mate. I thought we were going to be together forever.”
However, Bennett’s decision to ask for the “letter of presumed death,” which is usually reserved for people missing more than five years, raised eyebrows for some — including Hellmann’s sister.
— Tom Elia (@TEliaPBPost) June 16, 2017
She told WPTV that she was suspicious of Bennett after he didn’t cry about her sister’s death.
And now, the case has taken a mysterious turn.
According to The Sun-Sentinel, Bennett has been arrested on federal charges for stealing a large number of silver and gold coins, which were discovered with him on the life raft the day his wife disappeared.
The coins, which are valued at more than $100,000, were found inside the raft with a number of other belongings. According to the Daily Mail, Bennett had:
A suitcase; a backpack; unexpended parachute flares; buoys; 14 gallons of water; a homing device, and nine plastic tubes which were found to contain some 225 silver coins.
A search of Bennett’s home on June 16 uncovered 162 more of the valuable coins.
FBI agents slowly emerging from missing Delray woman Isabella Hellmann's condo w/ materials in hand. No word on what they've collected. pic.twitter.com/myNr6s2VeC
— Lulu Ramadan (@luluramadan) June 16, 2017
The treasure was some of the 617 gold and silver collectable coins stolen from the ship Kitty R. in the Caribbean last year.
Bennett worked aboard the ship at the time and reported the robbery to police, according to the Daily Mail.
The husband now faces federal charges of transporting stolen goods valued at $5,000 or more. According to the Sun-Sentinel, he will head to court in Key West on Tuesday.
Bennett is still not facing any charges relating to his wife’s disappearance. For now, her family continues to pray for answers.