Friends of missing Briton Sarm Heslop call for FBI’s help in investigating her disappearance as anger grows with Virgin Islands police for failing to search boyfriend’s catamaran
- Frustration is growing with US Virgin Islands detectives searching for Heslop, 41
- Police have failed to search the catamaran after boyfriend refused permission
- Friends of Heslop want a thorough ‘fingertip’ search and potential help from FBI
Friends of missing British woman Sarm Heslop are urging the FBI to investigate her disappearance in the Caribbean amid growing frustration with local detectives.
Police on the US Virgin Islands have been foiled in their efforts to search the catamaran where she was last seen on March 7, with her American boyfriend Ryan Bane refusing permission and invoking his constitutional right to silence.
Bane is said to fear being wrongly incriminated, but friends of the missing Briton want a thorough ‘fingertip’ search of the boat and are calling for the assistance of ‘any agency that can help’, including the FBI.
But local police merely say they have asked for ‘assistance’ from federal agents rather than getting the FBI to lead the investigation, according to The Times.
Friends of missing British woman Sarm Heslop (pictured) are urging the FBI to investigate her disappearance in the Caribbean amid growing frustration with local detectives
Friends of 41-year-old Heslop said in a Tuesday update that ‘we are distraught that we have no concrete news to bring you’ more than two weeks after she vanished.
They called on the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) to ‘prioritise’ the investigation, after earlier vowing that ‘we will not leave quietly’.
Local police said they were taken by surprise when Bane, an American, refused permission to search the 47ft catamaran Siren Song.
‘We thought we could just ask Mr Bane to search the boat and he would say yes and he didn’t. That is his right,’ said police spokesman Toby Derima.
‘Getting the search warrant would be the next step, however we are still searching, doing regular inspections of the areas and speaking to potential witnesses.’
Derima cast doubt on whether a search warrant could be obtained, explaining that ‘this is not yet a criminal case’.
Andrew Baldwin, a friend of Heslop, said rescuers wanted the help of ‘just whoever can support this investigation’.
‘We want whatever resources can be brought to bear to help find Sarm. It’s been 15 days now,’ he said.
He added that Heslop’s parents, who live in Hertfordshire, were ‘not doing well’ as the search goes on for their the former Flybe flight attendant.
Heslop’s boyfriend, American yachtsman Ryan Bane (pictured), has refused permission to search his catamaran and invoked his constitutional right to silence
Baldwin cast doubt on the timeline around when Heslop disappeared, pointing to a nine-hour gap between Bane’s calls to the police and the US Coast Guard.
‘We know that Mr Bane called the local police at 2.30am and was told to call the Coast Guard,’ Baldwin said.
‘The Coast Guard was reported as saying that it was alerted to her disappearance by Mr Bane at 11.46am on Monday. This timeline just does not make sense to us.
‘We also cannot understand why Mr Bane’s lawyer has denied officers’ requests to search the boat and exercised his constitutional rights to remain silent.
‘We know they had dinner in a local restaurant and left at 10pm. What we don’t know is what happened in those intervening hours.’
A friend of Bane said he had immediately called police after Heslop vanished and was not responsible for the nine-hour delay before the Coast Guard was informed.
Bane was also described by a friend as afraid of being wrongly incriminated in the investigation.
The USVI police department said at the weekend: ‘Soon after reporting Ms Heslop missing, Mr Bane acquired the services of an attorney.
‘Upon his attorney’s advice, Mr Bane exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and denied officers’ requests to search the vessel.’
Frustration is growing with local detectives who have been foiled in their efforts to search the 47ft catamaran Siren Song (pictured)
Cori Stevenson, the ex-wife of 44-year-old Bane, has come forward to say that her fellow American previously ‘went to jail for kicking my a**’.
Court records show he was jailed for 21 days in 2011 after leaving her bloodied and with a chipped tooth following a row.
Ryan Bane is seen in his mugshot after he was arrested in 2011 for attacking his ex-wife
A police report said: ‘She states that Ryan has been becoming increasingly verbally abusive toward her, and that he has been physically abusive one time previously.
‘She states that this incident happened about six months ago, that the incident went unreported, and that it caused her to miss multiple days of work with marks to her face.’
Heslop’s friends say Bane is the owner and operator of the Siren Song, where Heslop was last seen off the island of St John.
A group of Heslop’s friends also published a statement from her family, who called for assurances that authorities were doing everything possible to locate her.
‘We are shocked and distraught that Sarm is missing,’ they said.
‘We would like assurance that the authorities in the Virgin Islands are doing everything possible to find her and that the investigation into our beautiful and cherished daughter’s disappearance includes a comprehensive fingertip search of the boat.
‘Our daughter is a UK citizen and we ask for all of the support that the UK authorities have to offer.
‘Our thanks go to the local people of St John who continue to search for Sarm. We will never give up looking for Sarm and we still have hope of finding her safe.’
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