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Missing Delray woman’s Facebook posts show joy on Caribbean trip

By Eliot Kleinberg From Palm Beach Post

Isabella Hellmann’s Facebook page exudes joyful anticipation.

“Caribbean, here I come,” she posted on April 29, along with a map bearing a dotted line from South Florida to the city of St. Maarten.

Another post shows her May 1 in Puerto Rico, and yet another May 2 in the British Virgin Islands.

But the posts have stopped. Isabella never came home.

Her husband, Lewis Bennett, has told authorities he was below deck on their 37-foot catamaran early on May 15 when he was jolted awake by it striking something. He said he came topside to find the boat taking water. His wife of three months, and the mother of their 9-month-old daughter, had vanished. Bennett was rescued and a 4-day search failed to find Hellmann.

The Coast Guard and the FBI both have confirmed they are jointly conducting a “missing person investigation” into the disappearance of the 41-year-old real estate broker from suburban Delray Beach.

Hellmann’s family has not responded to numerous inquiries from The Palm Beach Post. A close friend has told The Palm Beach Post the couple sparred regularly over Bennett’s desire to move with her and the child back to Australia.

Bennett also has not responded to emails and calls from The Post.

On Tuesday, Bennett — a dual citizen of Australian and Great Britain — told The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, “I have nothing to hide.”

Bennett told the reporter at his suburban Delray Beach condominium that federal investigators “haven’t accused me of anything. Nobody has put that allegation directly against me. But I understand why they have to investigate and that is fair enough. I have got nothing to hide. They have to do what they have to do.”

Bennett 40, told the Daily Mail, “It is now two weeks since she has been missing, so I am not holding out much hope of seeing her so I have to come to terms with that. This is absolutely devastating for me. She is my soul mate. I thought we were going to be together forever.”

He added, “We were planning a great life together and now I am alone without her. I loved her very much. … We’ll just have to see.”

Bennett told the tabloid he had made a trip to Cuba last week and “met the authorities there and checked every hospital, but there is no sign of her.” He said he returned to Florida on Saturday.

But a neighbor, Anne Fennimore, told The Post last week that Bennett told her the weekend of May 21-23 that he could not leave the country because he’d lost his passport when the catamaran sank and his new temporary passport didn’t yet allow him to travel.

Bennett also told The Daily Mail he was considering “civil action” against Hellman family members he said he believes went into his condo while he was in Cuba.

Fennimore told The Post that Bennett told her that when he returned to his apartment days after being rescued, he found Hellmann’s engagement ring and electronics and an expensive handbag were gone. Fennimore said she told him she’d seen Hellmann’s family in the apartment.

Government officials in St. Maarten — the Dutch island in the Caribbean where Bennett has said he bought his boat — confirmed Bennett’s boat came in on April 8 and left April 30.

Hellmann’s friend Sarah Cortes has said Hellman’s family told her Hellmann called them at about 8:30 p.m. May 14, the night she disappeared. She either said she was in Cuba or had left Cuba and was at sea. Bennett has told the Coast Guard the boat left Havana at about 5:30 p.m. and he went below around 8 p.m., which would have been around sunset.

Cortes said Hellmann told her family the satellite phone had been malfunctioning, but the couple had gotten it working and “we’re heading home.”

IMAGE: The FBI and the Coast Guard are conducting a joint ‘missing person investigation’ for Isabella Hellmann, 41, a Delray Beach real-estate agent and the mother of a 9-month-old daughter.

For more on this story go to:–law/new-missing-delray-woman-facebook-posts-show-joy-caribbean-trip/b2e2kmTC85f7B7smJamxbI/



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