December 6, 2021

Husband of Delray Beach woman who vanished at sea accused of stealing coins in Caribbean

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By Amanda Batchelor From Local 10 ABC

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Delray Beach man being investigated in the disappearance of his wife who vanished at sea earlier this year was arrested Monday by the FBI.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Lewis Bennett was arrested in West Palm Beach on federal charges for allegedly stealing as much as $100,000 worth of silver and gold coins while he was working on a ship in the Caribbean.

The owner of the boat told the FBI that Bennett was a crew member on the vessel in May 2016 while it was located in St. Maarten.

He said the coins were stolen after someone broke open the floor of the boat beneath a pallet of food.

Bennett’s wife, Isabella Hellmann, 41, was reported missing May 15 during a sailing trip near the Bahamas.

Bennett, told the U.S. Coast Guard that he and Hellmann were on their 37-foot catamaran, “Surf into Summer,” on Mother’s Day when it struck an unknown object, causing it to take on water. He told the Coast Guard that he abandoned the catamaran and couldn’t find his wife.

Bennett, 40, was rescued the next day from a life raft about 30 miles west of Cay Sal, Bahamas. The catamaran was later found overturned in the Florida Straits.

FBI agents said they found some of the coins while taking an inventory of the items found in Bennett’s life raft.

Authorities said the coins were inside nine plastic tubes that were wrapped in clear tape.

IMAGE:Lewis Bennett told the U.S. Coast Guard that he abandoned the catamaran after it started taking on water near the Bahamas but lost sight of his wife, Isabella Hellmann.

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