PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – A Delray Beach newlywed, who disappeared from a boat while honeymooning in the Bahamas nearly two years ago, has officially been declared dead.
A judge’s order, issued May 9th, declared that Isabella Hellman, 41, is presumed dead at sea.
Her husband Lewis Bennet, 42, faces sentencing in his wife’s death this month after pleading guilty in November to involuntary manslaughter. The plea agreement caps his potential prison sentence at eight years.
Bennet was found alone in a lifeboat packed with provisions and $100,000 worth of stolen coins. He had repeatedly claimed he was asleep below deck and discovered his wife missing when their catamaran took on water on May 14, 2017. Authorities searched for Hellman for four days, but never found her body. The FBI said an inspection found that holes in the hull were inflicted from the inside, and hatches were opened in a deliberate attempt to sink the boat.
Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Scott Suskauer ordered the FBI to give the keys to Hellman’s condominium in Delray Beach to an attorney representing her parents so it can be sold, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The condo is valued at $130,000 and her bank accounts totaled $41,117. She had $8,524 in credit card bills.
The judge also ordered that $18,000 be placed in a trust fund for their daughter, Emelia. The child, who turns three in July, now lives with Bennett’s parents in Scotland. The remaining money will go toward debts and defense attorney fees.
Bennett’s sentencing is set for May 28 in Miami. He apologized to Hellman’s family in court in January, noting their “unimaginable pain.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)