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Isabella Hellmann's mother speaks out the day before judge hears petition to declare her dead

Posted at 9:05 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 21:05:49-04

Amparo Alvarez is living with a broken heart. While she waits for the FBI to reveal what they think happened to her daughter Isabella Hellmann when she disappeared off her husband Lewis Bennett's boat. Bennett is asking a judge to presume Isabella dead.

"I feel that they should not declare her dead because we have not been given anything," said Alvarez in Spanish, referring to the FBI investigation.

Back in May when Isabella disappeared, Bennett told the Coast Guard his wife was keeping watch on his boat while he was sleeping. He said he was jolted out of bed when the boat hit a submerged object. He looked for Isabella, but told the Coast Guard she was gone and the boat was taking on water. Bennett loaded his backpack onto a life raft and abandoned the boat. He was later rescued by the Coast Guard. 

Alvarez said she didn't know if she believed Bennett's story. She said no, but she couldn't think something bad about someone who was so good. However, she said that she feels Bennett has changed since Isabella's disappearance. 

'I never thought he was going to take my granddaughter away just 15 after, without knowing anything about Isabella. That has been very hard for us," said Alvarez in Spanish. "It hurt my soul the day he took the baby and he left me on the floor fainting," she said referring to a May 28 incident documented by police where Bennett went to the family's home to collect his daughter's things and take the baby. 

Court documents suggest Bennett's lawyer plans to present the judge with the Coast Guard's findings that calculated based on Isabella physical traits, she could not have functioned more than 13 hours in the conditions present during her disappearance or survived more than 120 hours. 

Usually in Florida, a person has to be missing for 5 years before presumed dead. Alvarez said she doesn't know why Bennett is trying to get this done quickly.

Isabella went missing on May 15. The Coast Guard suspended its search for her on May 18 and on May 19 the Coast Guard sent Bennett a letter responding to his request to presume her dead, notifying him the U.S. Coast Guard is not authorized to do that.

Alvarez does not want a judge to presume Isabella dead. She is hoping to see her granddaughter again, but doesn't know where the baby is. Bennett is in jail awaiting trial on a federal charge accusing him of transporting stolen coins. Before his arrest, Hellmann's family wrote to him in England to try and visit the baby for her first birthday, but say he never responded just sent them a few photos of Emelia. 

"Please help me. I need help to get my granddaughter back, have her given to me. And a reason, what happened to my daughter?" said Alvarez. 

A judge is set to hear Bennett's petition to presume Isabella Hellmann dead on Thursday morning. Bennett is expected to stand trial in December in Key West.