In May, a newlywed Florida couple decided to leave their 9-month-old daughter behind in order to take a much-needed island vacation. But soon, tragedy struck.
Isabella Hellmann, 41, and her husband, Lewis Bennett, 38, had only been married for three months when they departed for their honeymoon in the sun-drenched Bahamas.
According to ABC News, the two were celebrating their marriage with a sailing trip on May 15 when something went horribly wrong.Screenshot/Twitter
Bennett claimed he was fast asleep aboard their small boat when he awoke to the boat crashing and filling with water. His wife was supposed to be keeping watch, but she was nowhere to be found.
He told the U.S. Coast Guard that he then hopped aboard a life boat and sent out a distress signal, but could not locate his missing wife. The husband was later rescued, and the Coast Guard began its intensive search for Hellmann.
The Coast Guard spent three days searching for Bennett’s wife, who was eventually declared “lost at sea.” The Coast Guard used aircraft and boats to search more than 6,000 miles for Hellmann, but had no luck.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) May 17, 2017
On May 18, rescuers called off the search. Bennett told the Daily Mail:
“This is absolutely devastating for me. She is my soul mate. I thought we were going to be together forever.”
Bennett even made a trip to nearby Cuba in order to check for his missing wife in hospitals.
But according to court documents obtained by ABC News, the missing woman’s husband made a suspicious request just four days after his wife vanished off the boat.
Bennett asked the Coast Guard to issue a “letter of presumed death,” which is usually reserved for people who have been missing for at least five years.
Though the Coast Guard and FBI haven’t named Bennett a suspect, his missing wife’s sister, Dayana Rodriguez, has now accused him of murder.
Rodriguez told WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida, that she grew suspicious of Bennett’s story after she asked him about her sister’s disappearance:
“He was calm, he wasn’t crying or anything. When I saw him I ran to him and I hugged him and I said where is Isabella? And he said ‘I don’t know.'”
And the sister said Bennett gave a disturbing answer when asked about her sister’s possible death. She told WPTV:
“I asked him, do you think she’s alive? Do you think she’s dead? And he said ‘I think she’s asleep.’ That was his answer.”
According to the Daily Mail, friends of the couple said that they had been arguing about the possibility of moving to Bennett’s native country of Australia shortly before their trip to the Bahamas.
Authorities have yet to confirm they are investigating any foul play involved in the disappearance, which is still being called a missing person case — at least for now.