Isabella Hellman, the Florida woman reported missing during a Caribbean honeymoon in May 2017, was murdered to end “marital strife,” according to court documents filed this week.
Lewis Bennet, a dual British-Australian national, was charged by U.S. prosecutors for murdering his wife and then intentionally sinking the couple’s 37-foot catamaran off the coast of Cuba to make it look as if there had been a boating accident, The Independent reported.
The body of the Delray Beach woman has never been found.
Her death occurred while the newlyweds were sailing home to the U.S. Bennet claimed to have been sleeping when the sound of a collision woke him up, the U.K.’s Sun reported.
After being radioed for help, rescuers found him alone with a heavy bag filled with gold and silver coins.
Twenty-four hours after Isabella Hellman’s disappearance, her husband filed for a “letter presumed dead,” which would entitle him to her estate.
Prosecutor Benjamin Greenberg now claims the couple were “consistently” arguing over financial problems as well as a planned move to Australia.
Greenberg said at least one of their rows resulted in the murder of Hellmann, The Independent reported.
“Hellmann's murder would remove the marital strife from the defendant's life, allow the defendant to live his life as he pleased, and would enable him to inherit money from Hellmann's estate, all of which provide strong circumstantial proof that the defendant had a strong motive to murder Hellmann,” Greenberg said.
Prosecutors also believe Hellman may have also discovered her husband had stolen the gold and silver coins from his former employer in 2016, which would render her an accomplice in the smuggling crime.
Bennet has pleaded guilty to smuggling the coins and is serving a seven-month sentence for the crime, but he now stands accused of killing Hellman with “malice aforethought,” The Sun-Sentinel reported.
Bennet will go on trial in December for second degree murder.
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