• Helllmann (left) and Bennett. Photo Palm Beach Post.
    Helllmann (left) and Bennett. Photo Palm Beach Post.

By Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post:

Lewis Bennett, who reported his wife missing on the high seas in May, has been arrested in West Palm Beach on federal charges that he stole as much as $100,000 in coins while a first mate on a ship in the Caribbean, according to the FBI and a federal complaint made public Monday.

Palm Beach Post coverage of Isabella Hellmann disappearance

Bennett and newlywed wife Isabella Hellmann, with whom he shared an infant daughter and a condo west of Delray Beach, had told authorities the couple was on a belated honeymoon sail through the Caribbean when he was awakened in the early hours of May 15 to find that the catamaran had struck something 30 miles west of Cay Sal in the Bahamas.

Bennett said he went topside to find Hellmann gone and his catamaran taking on water. He was rescued, but a four-day search to find Hellmann, 41, was officially called off May 18.

Within a day, according to Palm Beach County court documents, Bennett asked the Coast Guard for a “letter of presumed death,” court documents show.

The federal complaint filed Friday, and unsealed Monday, makes no reference to foul play.

The Coast Guard and the FBI confirmed May 26, eight days after the search was called off, that each agency was conducting a “missing person investigation.” Neither agency has said whether Bennett is a target of the investigation or even if either suspects foul play.

Continue reading at the Palm Beach Post to get the full story on the coin theft.

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