Husband of SoFla real estate broker missing-at-sea sentenced to prison

A judge declared Isabella Hellmann dead earlier this month
May 28, 2019 03:30PM

Isabella Bennett and a recent mugshot of Lewis Bennett (Credit: Find Isabella | Facebook and Broward Sheriff's Office)

Isabella Bennett and a recent mugshot of Lewis Bennett (Credit: Find Isabella | Facebook and Broward Sheriff’s Office)

The husband of a South Florida real estate broker was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in her death during their honeymoon.

A Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge declared Isabella Hellmann dead earlier this month, more than two years after she disappeared at sea.

Isabella, a former real estate broker in Delray Beach, was 41 when her husband, Lewis Bennett, said she had gone overboard from his catamaran, west of the Bahamas. He pleaded guilty in November to involuntary manslaughter, and will also be on two years of supervised release when his sentence ends, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Had he been charged with the original murder charge, Bennett could have received a life term.

Bennett was also ordered to pay nearly $23,000 in restitution to the couple’s young daughter. It is the amount of money the FBI seized from him when he was arrested in 2018, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The FBI alleged that Lewis Bennett staged her death to look like an accident, poking holes in the catamaran’s hulls. He claimed that he was asleep when he heard the boat strike something. At that point, his wife was gone without a trace.

According to a complaint, Bennett, an experienced sailor, admitted that he did nearly nothing to try to find his wife. Instead, he brought with him on a life raft a suitcase, two duffle bags, a backpack, parachute flares, food, water, a satellite phone and more. He called for help roughly 45 minutes after he first woke up.

Bennett also had tens of thousands of dollars in silver coins on him, which authorities believe he stole while working aboard a yacht in the Caribbean. [Palm Beach Post] – Katherine Kallergis