Sarm Heslop: Police on US Virgin Islands still searching for missing woman

Recent discovery of a woman’s body was found not to be hers because it was ‘not Caucasian’

Sam Hancock
Monday 31 May 2021 13:43 BST

Police are continuing to investigate the disappearance of Sarm Heslop after she went missing on the US Virgin Islands in March.

The 41-year-old, originally from Southampton, was on an extended holiday with her American boyfriend Ryan Bane at the time she vanished.

She was last seen having dinner in St John with Mr Bane on 7 March, hours before he claims he woke up on the luxury yacht they were sharing at 2am to find she was gone.

Local police officers have since questioned Mr Bane, with reports suggesting he was urged to cooperate fully with the investigation after he refused to allow coastguards to search his boat.

Toby Derima, of the US Virgin Islands Police, said: “We would like the boyfriend to cooperate with the police. We would like to ask him a few questions. We need his cooperation and for him to come forward so we can speak to him.”

It comes after a woman’s body was found on St Croix, a nearby Caribbean Island, which police confirmed was not that of Ms Heslop.

Virgin Islands Police Department said the body was “not Caucasian, ruling out the remains are of Ms Heslop”.

Mr Bane reported his partner missing at around 2.30am on 8 March, but did not inform the coastguard until midday.

Coastguard officials said that when they visited his boat that afternoon, during a search and rescue operation, they found him drunk and uncooperative. He refused to answer questions and physically prevented them from searching his boat.

Local police have now been joined by FBI agents from the US to figure out what happened to Ms Heslop. She had been living aboard Siren Song, a catamaran, with Mr Bane, acting as a chef and hostess on charter cruises for private clients.

Detectives have said it is not certain Ms Heslop ever made it back to the boat after she was last seen eating dinner. CCTV footage from a number of locations has been examined, but so far there has been no sign of her.

Bank cards and a mobile phone belonging to Ms Heslop were still on board the Siren Song when she vanished.

Mr Bane has said he is “desperate” for her to be found while his attorney, David Cattie, said “Ryan’s only hope is that Sarm is found alive and well”.

He added: “Mr Bane has spent countless hours searching for Sarm and will continue to do so. Ryan is devastated that Sarm is missing.”

Friends of Ms Heslop have offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information and set up a Missing Sarm Heslop Facebook page to share information about her disappearance.

They posted last week: “It’s been 11 weeks since Sarm Heslop went. We are still pushing for news, asking questions and trying to keep Sarm in people's hearts and minds and it's intensely frustrating we don't have any information to share.”

Virgin Islands Police Department has been approached for comment.

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