Sarm Heslop: Missing woman's parents still have hope

By Indy Almroth-Wright & Graham Satchell
BBC South

Published
media captionSarm Heslop's parents said they "still have hope" she will be found

The parents of a British woman who vanished from her boyfriend's yacht in the US Virgin Islands "still have hope" she will be found alive.

Sarm Heslop, 41, from Southampton, was reported missing by Ryan Bane, from his boat off St John over four months ago.

Peter Heslop and Brenda Street say they are in a "living nightmare" and still have no answers about what happened.

Mr Bane, the last person to have seen her, has declined detectives' request for an interview, according to police.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, from their home in Essex, Ms Heslop's parents said they "still believe she will come back" and just want to find her and uncover the truth.

Ms Street said: "I feel like I'm in a numb bubble - I can't bear anybody talking about her or looking sorry for me, it's just horrible. I wake up every morning and it's the same nightmare.

"I really believe in my heart that if she was gone I'd feel it - I still have hope."

Ms Heslop, a former flight attendant, had been staying and working with Mr Bane, a US citizen, on the catamaran Siren Song.

She was known to have gone for dinner in St John, which was under a 22:00 local-time Covid curfew, with Mr Bane on 7 March.

He reported her missing to police at 02:30 on 8 March - his call to the coastguard then took a further nine hours.

image source, Heslop family
image captionFour months after she vanished, what happened to the former flight attendant is still not known

"It just drives me nuts. What happened between 02:00 and 11:45 in the morning? He didn't shout and holler - he didn't ask for nobody, he just made a phone call to the police. There's just no answers," Mr Heslop said.

Ms Street added: "We can't understand why it took him so long - there's such a time lapse and nobody has seen her since she left the restaurant.

"If you were that last person to see that person wouldn't you just go and answer the questions, be involved in the investigation, be there asking questions?

"Any person would surely do anything they could to help find somebody that he was supposed to love. What sort of human being wouldn't be there to help - he should just come forth and cooperate."

She added the only time she saw Mr Bane was "when he called on that fateful day on WhatsApp".

image source, Heslop friends
image captionSarm Heslop had been staying on the catamaran Siren Song

They want Mr Bane to come forward to police and a full forensic search to be carried out on the boat.

Ms Heslop's possessions, including her bank cards and mobile phone, were found on the boat when she vanished.

Following her disappearance, Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) searched the island and its coastline using divers, drones and dogs.

In a statement issued at the time, VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said: "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."

image source, Family handout
image captionUS citizen Ryan Bane reported Sarm Heslop missing to police at 02:30 on 8 March

In April the force said detectives had been unable to confirm if she was onboard the catamaran as reported by Mr Bane on 7 March.

In its latest statement VIPD said: "We would like to interview Ryan Bane.

"We cannot confirm Mr Bane's location, however, we urge him to make contact with us to aid us with this investigation."

image source, Google
image captionMs Heslop is known to have had dinner in St John with US citizen Mr Bane on 7 March

Mr Bane's lawyer said: "If Mr Bane's presence is legally required in the territory, he will return upon such a demand.

"He met with the US Coast Guard, answered all questions posed to him, and gave them unfettered access to the vessel as well as to Sarm's personal belongings including her phone and iPad.

"Mr Bane had nothing to do with Sarm's disappearance and remains heartbroken that she is missing."

Friends of Ms Heslop in the UK 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.

Thanking her friends for their ongoing support, Ms Heslop's parents added: "They have become good friends to us - they have worked endlessly and they are hurting as well."

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