A man who reported his new wife missing at sea after they went sailing on their honeymoon was arrested on charges that he stole as much as $100,000 in coins several years prior, while he was a first mate on a Caribbean ship, The Palm Beach Post reported.
Lewis Bennett and his wife, Isabella Hellman, were on a honeymoon sail in the early morning on May 15 when their catamaran apparently struck an object and began taking on water. Bennett woke up and found that Hellman, 41, was gone, he told authorities after he was rescued.
Bennett asked the Coast Guard for a “letter of presumed death” within the day, even as investigators continued to search for Hellmann’s body for four days.
Police have not accused Bennett of foul play. But the Coast Guard and the FBI are continuing to conduct a missing person investigation, the Palm Beach Post reported.
While Bennett was a crew member on the St. Maarten ship Kitty R in May 2016, 617 gold and silver collectible coins were reported missing. Bennett flew back to St. Maarten this year, shortly before his honeymoon.
When Bennett was rescued, he was allegedly carrying luggage that contained 225 of the missing coins. Law enforcement returned these coins to Bennett before realizing that they might have been stolen. They then searched his condo and found 162 more of the missing coins hidden in boat shoes.
Bennett is set to appear in federal court today.
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