The family of Sarm Heslop, a British woman who disappeared in the U.S. Virgin Islands more than three weeks ago, is not giving up on the search as her boyfriend, Ryan Bane, continues to resist efforts by authorities to search the 47-foot catamaran she vanished from.
"It is now over three weeks since Sarm went missing. 25 days in which we get more and more concerned as we wait for news," Heslop's family said in a statement Friday. "If we could travel then we would; we just want to be on the island helping with the search and we dream of being able to wrap our arms round our darling daughter."
Heslop was last seen in public with Bane at a restaurant, 420 to Center, on the evening of March 7. Bane said they returned to his boat, Siren Song, around 10 p.m. that night and that he awoke to find her missing at 2:30 a.m. on March 8, but friends are keying in on what happened after the couple left the restaurant. "We want to know what happened after Sarm left the restaurant in Cruz Bay," one of Heslop's best friends said in a statement Friday. "As a friends group, we are doing everything we can to help support her parents and each other." The Virgin Islands Police Department said they do not have evidence that Heslop ever returned to the boat, telling the BBC that "investigators cannot confirm with certainty, if and when Ms Heslop boarded the Siren Song on March 7." Bane called the VIPD to report Heslop missing around 2:30 a.m. on March 8, but did not call the US Coast Guard until roughly nine hours later at 11:46 a.m. The Coast Guard fined Bane for not allowing them to search the catamaran or do a standard safety check on the day Heslop went missing. "As part of the search and rescue effort, the Coast Guard went aboard the vessel to interview and gather information from the reporting source," Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, a USCG spokesman, said this week. "On a second occasion that afternoon, the Coast Guard went aboard the vessel to conduct a standard recreational vessel safety check to ensure proper equipment and compliance with applicable rules and regulations for vessel type and operation." Bane blocked Guardsmen from inspecting the vessel on that second encounter and failed to provide proper documents, according to the Coast Guard. The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Justice, as well as the FBI and British authorities, are currently assisting in the search and investigation.