Just days before Tuesday’s anniversary of the disappearance of Isabella Hellmann, her family communicated with her baby for the first time since Hellmann was reported lost at sea on May 15, 2017.
On Friday, the family had a 15-minute video call with the little girl, who is living with Bennett’s parents in England, Mitchell Kitroser, a North Palm Beach attorney who’s been working with them, told The Palm Beach Post on Monday.
In the early hours of May 15, 2017, the suburban Delray Beach real estate broker’s husband, Lewis Bennett, called the U.S. Coast Guard to say his catamaran had struck something west of the Bahamas and southeast of Key West, and was taking on water. And that he’d come topside to find his wife gone. A massive search turned up nothing.
Hellmann remains missing and is presumed dead.
Bennett is in a federal lockup, awaiting trial on charges filed in February that allege he murdered his wife and staged an accident at sea to cover up the crime. On the day he was charged, he was separately sentenced to seven months in prison after admitting to transporting stolen coins the night he was rescued.
And the couple’s daughter Emelia, now nearly 2, is with Bennett’s parents in England. Hellmann’s family hasn’t seen her since Bennett came for her a few days after his rescue.
Up to now, he said, the Florida relatives had seen only photos. But on Friday, “they were able to see Emelia and talk to her,” Kitroser said. “Everybody was able to put the needs of the little girl over the controversy of a murder case. And kudos to both families for doing it.”
The Florida family is hoping for a face-to-face reunion with the child, Kitroser said.
“There was discussion about it, and we’re hoping that’s something that gets done sooner rather than later,” he said.
Kitroser said he was not privy to the talks and can’t say if the two families discussed the logistics and whether the baby would come back to Florida or the Florida family would travel to England.
He also said the family did not want to comment specifically about either the anniversary or the pending murder charges. Several times in the last year, the family has declined interview requests by The Post. Bennett’s father, in England, and his sister, in Scotland, both also have declined to talk to The Post. Bennett has declined to comment through his federal public defender, and federal prosecutors also will not comment.