Husband under investigation in Delray Beach woman's disappearance

Sister-in-law of Isabella Hellmann blames husband for her death

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The husband of a Delray Beach woman who vanished at sea last month is now being investigated in her disappearance, a Boca Raton police report revealed.

Isabella Hellmann, 41, was reported missing during a sailing trip near the Bahamas.

Her husband, Lewis Bennett, told the U.S. Coast Guard that he and Hellmann were on their 37-foot catamaran, "Surf into Summer," on Mother's Day when it struck an unknown object, causing it to take on water. He told the Coast Guard that he abandoned the catamaran and couldn't find his wife.

Bennett, 40, was rescued the next day from a life raft about 30 miles west of Cay Sal, Bahamas. The catamaran was later found overturned in the Florida Straits.

According to a Boca Raton police report obtained by Local 10 News, Bennett called police Sunday while trying to retrieve a computer, an iPad, and engagement ring and other belongings from Hellmann's sister's home.

Bennett, who had his 9-month-old child with him, claimed that his sister-in-law, Dayana Rodriguez, had taken the items from his home, the report said. Rodriguez denied the accusation, but Bennett said he "had the security cameras to prove it," the report said.

Another sister-in-law, Elizabeth Rodriguez, yelled at Bennett to get out and "repeatedly stated that Lewis killed her sister," the report said.

The police officer who was called to the home decided that it was best for Bennett to leave, and he did, the report said.

An investigator with the U.S. Marshals Service told police that Lewis is under investigation in his wife's disappearance, the report said.

Evidence tape was found on the door of Lewis Bennett's and Isabella Hellmann's Delray Beach home.
Evidence tape was found on the door of Lewis Bennett's and Isabella Hellmann's Delray Beach home.

Dayana Rodriguez told WPTV in West Palm Beach that her sister didn't want to leave their baby, but she needed to help Bennett bring back his boat from St. Maarten.

"They were supposed to go from St. Martin to Puerto Rico, from Puerto Rico to Cuba, from Cuba to Key West," Dayana Rodriguez said.

She said her sister called her from a satellite phone after leaving Cuba. That was the last communication she had with Hellmann.

The Coast Guard called off the search for Hellmann on May 18.

Hellmann was a real estate agent at Signature International Real Estate in Delray Beach.