Friends of missing Sarm Heslop, the United Kingdom woman who vanished from her boyfriend Ryan Bane’s 47-foot luxury catamaran in the U.S. Virgin Islands in March, are raising the alarm over alleged plans to sell the boat while police still haven’t searched it.
“A full forensic search of the catamaran Siren Song, of which Sarm was a resident with her boyfriend Ryan Bane, has never been carried out, as no search warrant has so far been granted by U.S. authorities,” the group said in a statement Tuesday. “It is now understood that Ryan Bane listed the Siren Song for sale for $229,000, having removed its recognizable name from the vessel’s exterior.”
Authorities say they never conducted a forensic examination on the vessel after a judge denied their request for a search warrant. The U.S. Coast Guard issued Bane citations the day after Heslop’s disappearance and alleged that he blocked officers’ access to the vessel’s cabin.
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U.S. Virgin Islands Police, who have announced no progress in an investigation in nearly eight months, did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment Tuesday.
“The Virgin Islands Police Department sought a search warrant for the Siren Song on multiple occasions, but was denied by the courts,” department spokesman Toby Derima told Fox News in late August. “Ryan Bane, through his attorney, refused to have any search conducted of the vessel. We will continue to pursue all legal means to obtain a search warrant for the vessel.”
Without a warrant, Bane was under no obligation to allow police access to his boat, although Heslop’s parents in July pleaded with him to let them have a look. And experts have told Fox News it is unusual for police to fail to obtain a warrant under the circumstances.
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Bane through his attorney, David Cattie, has denied any involvement in Heslop’s disappearance and said he was “devastated” by the situation. Cattie said Tuesday that his client would not make further comments in connection with the case.
Cattie previously disputed the claim that the vessel had not been searched and said that the Coast Guard performed an “on-site inspection of the vessel and an on-sight interview without limitation.” USCG officials said that they had been “denied full access” to the vessel and issued citations.
Heslop was last seen alive leaving the 4:20 to Center bar in St. John with Bane around 10 p.m. on March 8, according to authorities. Investigators never confirmed that she made it back to the boat.
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Bane called police around 2:30 a.m. to report her missing, investigators said. They advised him to contact the Coast Guard to report a person overboard, but he allegedly waited until around 11:45 a.m. to do so.
“Once the boat is sold any evidence which could hold vital clues to Sarm’s disappearance will be lost forever and that would be devastating,” Heslop’s friends said in their statement. “The boat is the last place Sarm was seen, so it is critical that, despite all the weeks which have passed, it is searched in order to progress the investigation. The smallest clue could hold the key. This could have been a crime scene; without the search we will never know.”
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Bane, who has denied any wrongdoing through his attorney, has a past domestic violence conviction stemming from a 2011 assault on his then-wife, Corie Stevenson. She told Fox News earlier this year that he had a short temper with women and could be violent.
She said he yanked her out of the car while her seatbelt was still buckled and slammed her face into the ground, chipping a tooth before rolling her over and clasping his hands around her throat.
A police report at the time described a similar version of events, and investigators noted other injuries, including scratches on her face, ear and neck.