Hus­band, in-laws feud over miss­ing woman

FBI in­ves­ti­gat­ing dis­ap­pear­ance of 41-year-old mother

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - LOCAL - By Tonya Alanez Staff writer

She van­ished at sea on Mother’s Day dur­ing a hon­ey­moon cata­ma­ran cruise.

Since then, the dis­ap­pear­ance of Is­abella Hell­mann has stymied search and res­cue crews, pit­ted her hus­band and rel­a­tives against each other in court, raised at least one of her sis­ter’s sus­pi­cions of foul play and sparked an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Hell­mann, 41, a Delray Beach real es­tate agent and mother to a now 1-year-old, pre­sum­ably fell over­board while at the helm of the cou­ple’s 37-foot cata­ma­ran. Her hus­band told au­thor­i­ties that he was asleep be­low deck when the ves­sel struck some­thing and be­gan to take on wa­ter.

For four days the U.S. Coast Guard searched the wa­ters near the Ba­hamas with two air­planes, two he­li­copters and two ships.

A day af­ter the search was called off, Hell­mann’s hus­band, Lewis Ben­nett, re­quested a let­ter from au­thor­i­ties say­ing his wife was “pre­sumed dead,” ac­cord­ing to court records ob­tained Fri­day.

The Coast Guard told Ben­nett it did not have the author­ity to is­sue such a let­ter, ac­cord­ing to records from the Palm Beach County Cir­cuit Court, where a le­gal bat­tle be­tween Lewis Ben­nett and his in-laws Hell­mann is play­ing out.

By state law, Hell­mann would have to be miss­ing for five years be­fore she would be le­gally pre­sumed dead.

US COAST GUARD/COUR­TESY

The U.S. Coast Guard searched for Is­abella Hell­mann near the Ba­hamas for four days with two air­planes, two he­li­copters and two ships.

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