Friends of the United Kingdom woman missing in the U.S. Virgin Islands for two months have announced a GoFundMe campaign to raise money in an effort to increase the reward for information on her whereabouts.
They made the announcement on the website they created to share updates about the search for the 41-year-old Sarm Heslop. They plan to augment the reward being offered by Crime Stoppers and to pay for any potential travel expenses for her family, should the need arise.
“Any funds not used for the reward or travel expenses will be donated to two charities that have helped us in the search for Sarm, and one charity close to Sarm’s heart: L B Trust Global, Coast Guard Foundation & Battersea,” the friends said in a message posted to mark eight weeks since Heslop was last seen.
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Heslop was at a bar with her boyfriend Ryan Bane until around 10 p.m. on March 7. He reported her missing at around 2:30 a.m. on March 8, according to local police, and said she was no longer on his 47-foot catamaran, the Siren Song.
They said they told him to contact the U.S. Coast Guard for a search and rescue mission – which he did about 10 hours later. Although he has not been named a suspect or person of interest, he retained a high-powered local lawyer and refused to allow police to search his boat.
Heslop’s friends have asked Bane to explain what happened in the hours between his 2:30 a.m. 911 call and when he contacted the U.S. Coast Guard.
“We all know Sarm would not disappear of her own volition or free will,” her friend, Andrew Baldwin, told the BBC Tuesday. “Even the tiniest, seemingly irrelevant detail may indeed be relevant so we would implore people to come forward and inform Virgin Islands Police Department immediately if they can recall anything unusual or saw anything pertinent the night of Sunday March 7 and early hours of March 8, 2021.”
Bane has repeatedly declined to comment on Heslop’s disappearance, and authorities have said they’re not even certain she even returned to the boat with him.
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As of Tuesday afternoon, the GoFundMe had raised more than £1,700 out of its £10,000 goal – or about $2,362 out of $14,000.
Crime Stoppers is already offering up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
But police have so far stopped short of publicly labeling the disappearance criminal.
“The purpose of the reward is an attempt to get anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Ms. Heslop to come forward,” Virgin Islands Police Commissioner Trevor Velinor said Tuesday. “VIPD continues to investigate this matter and seeks any bit of information possessed by the public.”