The search continues for a 41-year-old British woman who disappeared from a boat moored off the US Virgin Islands earlier this month, but police now say the woman’s boyfriend, an American, has appealed to a lawyer and will not allow them to search the ship.
Sarm Heslop was last seen on the boat, which is owned and operated by Ryan Bane, on the evening of March 7, after the couple went out to dinner.
Police officers from the Virgin Islands met with Bane at around 2:30 a.m. on March 8, when he reported his disappearance. Officers conducted an initial land search and told Bane to contact the U.S. Coast Guard, who searched the vessel later in the morning, according to the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department.
But police in the Virgin Islands now say Bane made a lawyer and haven’t allowed them to search the boat since Heslop went missing almost two weeks ago.
“Shortly after reporting Ms. Heslop’s disappearance, Mr. Bane enlisted the services of a lawyer,” a spokesperson for the police department said in a statement on Friday. “On the advice of his lawyer, Mr. Bane exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and refused the officers’ requests to search the vessel. ”
The US Coast Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday evening.
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Heslop’s friends in the UK have pushed police to step up the investigation and search Bane’s 47ft catamaran. Andrew Baldwin, a friend of Heslop, said this week that he found it “incredibly difficult” to believe that she fell from the boat.
“It’s been eight days since Sarm was gone,” Baldwin told Fox News Wednesday. “Eight days later, they could have found anything on the boat. ”
Bane’s attorney, David Cattie, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Cattie previously said in a statement that “Bane’s only hope is that Sarm is found alive and well. ”
“Mr. Bane has spent countless hours searching for Sarm and will continue to do so,” Cattie said this week. “Ryan is devastated that Sarm is missing. ”
The Virgin Islands Police Department said it was continuing the search for Heslop, including performing multiple searches a day and going through hours of surveillance footage that could shed light on his disappearance.
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US Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told the Virgin Islands Daily News that immediately after Heslop’s disappearance, they searched “the shore, the adjacent islands and all the waters around and towards the sea at from where the ship was ”, approximately 50 meters. off Frank Bay.
“A Coast Guard helicopter searched this afternoon and the search continued through the night,” Castrodad told the local newspaper. “The conditions were excellent in terms of visibility, sea conditions, and there was no sign of anyone in the water. ”
Anyone with information about Heslop’s disappearance should call 911 or the St. Thomas / St. John District Criminal Investigations Office at (340) 774-2211 or the St. Croix District at (340) 778- 2211.
Stephen Sorace of Fox News contributed to this report.