A Brit has been charged with murdering his wife months after she mysteriously vanished when their boat sank during a honeymoon boat trip in the Caribbean.
The FBI yesterday arrested Lewis Bennett on suspicion of the second-degree homicide of Isabella Hellmann who disappeared as they sailed towards their home in Florida.
The 41-year-old, from Poole in Dorset, claimed that he awoke on May 15 last year when his catamaran ‘Surf into Summer’ struck an unknown object and capsized.
According to the FBI, Bennett said he had been sleeping below deck, while Isabella was on watch with the boat on auto-pilot.
Bennett said he found her gone and with water flooding in.
He fled the vessel via a lifeboat, taking items including a tea set and a jar of peanut butter, but made no effort to find his wife, according to an FBI affadavit.
Within a day, Bennett requested, without success, a “letter of presumed death” for the mother of his young daughter.
The Brit said he needed his wife declared dead so he could settle her estate – but a judge in Florida refused to rule until she knows more about the case.
The FBI says Bennett’s boat was deliberately damaged from the inside, with escape hatches having been opened below the water line.
In a court document, FBI special agent James Kelley said the bureau believed Bennett “knowingly and unlawfully killed” the mother of his baby.
“Based on knowledge learned during the course of this investigation, the fact that Bennett waited until the final leg of his voyage to activate his satellite phone or boat locator is indicative of the fact that he wanted to ensure his own rescue and survival after murdering his wife and intentionally scuttling his catamaran,” the agent wrote.