Sarm Heslop: Mother of British woman missing in US Virgin Islands asks President Biden for help finding her daughter

The family of a British woman who has been missing for three years in the US Virgin Islands are pleading for help from President Biden to find her.

Sarm Heslop, a former air hostess from Southampton, was living what seemed to be her dream life in the US Virgin Islands, a group of Caribbean islands known for their white sand and turquoise waters.

She had moved to be with her new boyfriend, Ryan Bane, and the pair were living and working together on Mr Bane's boat, named Siren Song.

But in March 2021, in the dead of night, the 41-year-old disappeared from the catamaran. Three years on she's still officially missing, but her mother Brenda Street now believes she was killed.

"I do believe she was murdered," Ms Street told Sky News. "There are places where people can be put in the ocean and never found. I believe that's what happened. I'd like to just bring her home, I can grieve then. I haven't grieved because I don't have her, and I don't know how to."

Ms Heslop and Mr Bane had been out at a sports bar in Frank Bay, St John, the night before she went missing. Mr Bane reported Ms Heslop missing to the Virgin Islands Police Department at 2.30am the following morning, saying he woke up to find her gone.

He was advised to tell the coastguard but didn't do so, reportedly, until nine hours later. When they eventually boarded the boat, a coastguard report alleges he was "highly intoxicated" and prevented a search of the cabin.

Island police have never interviewed Mr Bane, never forensically searched the boat and refused assistance from the FBI.

"They've not done their jobs as police officers, not done their job as human beings," Ms Street said.

Speaking from Essex, where she now lives, Ms Street called for the US authorities to remove the case from the Virgin Islands police.

"I emailed President Biden," she said. "But he didn't reply. I'm asking for his assistance, for some department of his to help us."

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Family recruit former Met Police homicide commander

The family have recruited a former Metropolitan Police homicide commander, David Johnston, to assist in the search for Ms Heslop. He has written to Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron to urge him to push the US authorities to oversee the Virgin Islands Police Department investigation.

Mr Johnston said: "What I think we really need now is for David Cameron as the foreign secretary to hold his counterpart in the US, who's the secretary of state for the interior, to account, to demand the governor on the island, please give clear and unambiguous answers to the family regarding what they've done or what else could be done. And to consider the formal interview of the boyfriend to ask him what happened that night."

Boyfriend has domestic violence conviction

Mr Bane has a domestic violence conviction. In 2011 he was jailed for assaulting his ex-wife, Cori Stephenson.

In a statement, a lawyer for Mr Bane said: "While we empathise with Sarm's family's frustration, Ryan Bane had nothing to do with Sarm's disappearance. Ryan is heartbroken that Sarm went missing... The coastguard was twice on the vessel conducting a search and questioning Ryan. They had unfettered access to the vessel and Ryan answered all questions posed to him."

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We are assisting the family of a British woman who has been reported missing in the US Virgin Islands and are in contact with the US Virgin Islands Police and the US coastguard."

The Virgin Islands Police Department didn't respond to repeated requests for comment.