A man who claimed his wife disappeared at sea when their boat collided with an unknown object near the Bahamas was charged Tuesday with killing her and intentionally trying to sink the vessel to cover his tracks, the AP reports. British citizen Lewis Bennett, 41, is charged with second-degree murder on the high seas in the May disappearance of Isabella Hellmann, also 41, of Delray Beach, Fla., the FBI said in an affidavit that points to financial greed as the likely motive. According to the FBI, Bennett told investigators the night his wife disappeared he had gone below deck to sleep sometime after 8pm and left Hellmann above to keep watch. The FBI said he falsely claimed she disappeared after the supposed accident. Her body has never been found despite an intensive search.
Investigators said they found evidence that Bennett had intentionally tried to sink the boat, which was a sailing catamaran. Portholes below the waterline had been opened and damage to the twin hulls appeared to have been caused from the inside. The FBI says Bennett almost immediately got into a life raft with luggage and other items—including a tea set—and took no actions to find his wife. They had been married only three months and had been sailing on a delayed honeymoon. Bennett has been attempting to get Hellmann officially declared dead in Florida probate court. According to the FBI, if he did so, he would have rights to her home in Delray Beach and also access to her bank accounts. He was taken into custody Tuesday while awaiting sentencing for stealing coins from a yacht in 2016, the Sun Sentinel reports. Some of them were found on his life raft.
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