Dog walker ‘heard a scream’ the night British woman went missing from her boyfriend’s yacht in the US Virgin Islands

  • Sarm Heslop, 41, from Southampton, was last seen aboard her 44-year-old boyfriend Ryan Bane’s yacht on March 7 when it was moored off Saint John 
  • Mr Bane, a charter captain, woke at 2am on March 8 to find Ms Heslop missing
  • He alerted the US Coast Guard at 11.46am, around ten hours later
  • It emerged today police, criticised for not searching the yacht for a week, had  been informed about a dog walker who had ‘heard a scream’ at 1am

A dog walker ‘heard a scream’ the night a British woman went missing from her boyfriend’s yacht in the US Virgin Islands, it has emerged.

Sarm Heslop, 41, from Southampton, was last seen aboard her 44-year-old boyfriend Ryan Bane’s yacht on March 7 when it was moored off Saint John.

Mr Bane, a charter captain, said he woke at 2am on March 8 to find Ms Heslop missing from his 47-foot catamaran, Siren Song.

He alerted the US Coast Guard at 11.46am, around ten hours later, and has since been involved in a massive search effort with Ms Heslop’s friends, local volunteers and police.

It was today revealed that police, who have been criticised for not searching the yacht for a week, were told by a witness about a ‘scream’ at 1am.


Sarm Heslop, 41, from Southampton, was last seen aboard her 44-year-old boyfriend Ryan Bane’s yacht on March 7 when it was moored off Saint John 

Mr Bane, a charter captain, woke at 2am on March 8 to find Ms Heslop missing from his 47-foot catamaran, Siren Song 

Friends of Ms Heslop told The Telegraph there was a dog walker on Frank’s Bay, where the vessel was moored, who told them ‘he heard a scream’ at 1am.

The witness came forward after friends set up the FindSarmHeslop Facebook page.

A police spokesman on the island said that they could ‘not confirm nor deny this,’ but said: ‘The noise was not reported at the time that it was allegedly heard by the passerby. We have been asked about this noise that was heard at 1am already.’ 

The police added that there were often noises around the harbour.

It comes as Ms Heslop’s boyfriend is said by friends to be ‘in pieces’ over her disappearance.

Ms Heslop, a former air hostess, starting dating Mr Bane six months ago after they met when she sailed to the Virgin Islands with two friends at the end of 2019.   

‘The last message I had from him was “I’m in pieces”,’ Flora Pickard, a friend of the couple, told The Times.

‘He is totally distraught. He doesn’t like being in the public spotlight, it’s not his style. He just pursues his dream of living quietly on a yacht with his dog. He really is so confused.’

Mr Bane woke the night she disappeared when the anchor alarm – which sounds if the yacht drags anchor – went off.

He phoned friends of Ms Heslop but did not contact the authorities straight away because, according to friends, it was not uncommon for Ms Heslop to head off without warning.

‘You might go for a night out and be sitting in the pub with her and then she’d disappear, not even say “See you tomorrow.” Then the next day she’d be back. It wasn’t unusual,’ said Pickard.

‘I wouldn’t put it past her if she’d gone up [on deck] for a cigarette and someone went past on a dinghy and said “Come and party with us,” she told The Times, speaking from St Barts on Wednesday where she is working as a chef on a charter yacht. 

‘I’m very hopeful about that. It’s a slim chance,’ Pickard added. 

Mr Bane has not commented publicly about his girlfriend’s disappearance but his lawyer released a statement, saying: ‘Mr Bane’s only hope is that Sarm is found alive and well. His thoughts and prayers are with Sarm and her family during this difficult time.

‘Mr Bane has spent countless hours searching for Sarm and will continue to do so. Ryan is devastated that Sarm is missing.’

Police divers have been scouring the water along the coastline ever since she was reported missing. They have found no trace of her in their search

So far the police have checked almost everywhere on the tiny 20 square mile island of St John which is the smallest of the three American Virgin Islands and have been unable to locate her. 

Police divers have been scouring the water along the coastline ever since she was reported missing. 

They have found no trace of her in their search.  

Police are investigating the possibility that she may have abandoned St John’s for the neighboring island of St Thomas. 

Toby Derima, of the USVI police department, said there had been possible sightings of her since she was reported missing but nothing they have been able to confirm. 

Heslop is described as a slim 41-year-old woman with a southern English accent and a tattoo on her left shoulder. 

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