Boyfriend of Missing British Woman Refuses to Let Police Search Yacht From Which She Vanished

Virgin islands

British Woman Missing From Virgin Islands. Image - Pixabay

Police searching for a missing British woman, Sarm Heslop, in the US Virgin Islands say her boyfriend has not let them search their luxury catamaran where she was last seen.

The US Coast Guard was alerted to Sarm’s disappearance at 11.46 am on Monday when her boyfriend, American yachtsman Captain Ryan Bane, could not find her aboard the 47ft Siren Song. Divers have joined the search with concerns the 41-year-old from Southampton might have fallen overboard.

Police have been searching land and water off the island of St John, where the yacht was moored, but they have allegedly been stopped from stepping foot on Siren Song by Mr Bane.

Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) spokesman, Toby Derima, said officers had performed an “initial land search”, adding on the BBC: “Soon after reporting Ms Heslop missing, Mr Bane acquired the services of an attorney.”

“Upon his attorney’s advice, Mr Bane exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and denied officers’ requests to search the vessel.”

Bane had earlier said the couple had been for dinner in a restaurant, leaving at 10 pm in line with the local Covid curfew and the took their dinghy back to the three-berth, £500,000 vessel, which was anchored 120ft from Frank Bay. He says they then went to sleep and he was woken by the yacht’s anchor alarm at 2 am.

A friend of Sarm’s in the UK said her passport, phone and belongings had all been left on the boat. He added: “We would like to thank all the local community for their support in searching for Sarm both on water and land.”

“They have been so amazing but we urge them not to give up until she is found or we have more information.”

The Leopard 4700 luxury catamaran was moored off the coast of St John, the third-largest of the US Virgin Islands. Police spokesman Toby Derima said: “Divers from various law enforcement agencies have searched hundreds of square feet of water for Heslop.”

Police said volunteers from the Virgin Islands have also searched the area surrounding Cruz Bay during daylight hours. “Unfortunately, this effort proved unsuccessful,” said Derima who added that the search will continue.

Heslop is described as a slim 41-year-old woman with a southern English accent and she also has a tattoo on her left shoulder.

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Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at