A Florida woman who went missing almost exactly two years ago during her honeymoon in the Bahamas has been declared officially dead.
Isabella Hellmann was last seen alive on Mother’s Day 2017 while she and husband Lewis Bennett were celebrating a belated honeymoon on their catamaran, Surf Into Summer, according to the Sun Sentinel. Bennett told investigators that he was asleep below deck while Hellmann was at the helm of the boat, which was on autopilot. He claimed he was woken up by a loud noise, at which point the boat began to sink.
He said he escaped on a life raft and left Hellmann behind.
But investigators found that the catamaran had “intentional damage” that came from “inside the vessel” and said that the boat was “intentionally scuttled” to cause it to flood, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Bennett was eventually charged with murder, but the charge was lowered to involuntary manslaughter, for which he pleaded guilty in November.
“I know that they have been through unimaginable pain as a result of my actions and for that I am truly sorry," Bennett directed to Hellmann’s family in court in January. “I have made poor decisions which compounded a tragedy of such magnitude that I pray no one else would ever have to experience it."
He faces up to eight years in prison at his sentencing hearing later this month.
Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Scott Suskauer officially declared Hellmann dead late last week.
“As Isabella Hellman has not been heard from nor seen since being lost at sea on May 14, 2017... there are no reasonable inferences or an explanation of her absence other than her presumed death at sea,” Suskauer wrote in the court filing.