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Isabella Hellmann's family fighting for missing woman's assets; husband expected to fight petition

Posted at 3:36 PM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 18:35:03-04

The husband of a Delray Beach woman who disappeared at sea plans to file a motion to dismiss her family's petition to gain access to her assets, according to Isabella Hellmann's sister's attorney. 

On June 14th, Hellmann's sister Adriana Difeo filed an emergency petition for conservatorship. In the petition, Difeo wants power and responsibility of Hellmann's assets including her car, financial accounts and the Delray Beach condo where Hellmann and her husband Lewis Bennett lived. It is valued at $117,000.  

The petition states Hellmann is an absentee and "disappeared under circumstances indicating she may have died, either naturally, accidentally, or at the hand of another."

Hellmann was reported missing on May 14. She was last seen by her husband on his 37-foot catamaran that has now sunk in the Florida straits. Bennett told the Coast Guard Hellmann was keeping watch while he was asleep. He was jolted out of bed when the boat hit an unknown object and could not find his wife on the boat. He said he had to abandon the boat in a raft after it started taking on water.

Bennett was rescued by the Coast Guard, but there has been no trace of Hellmann. Two weeks after Hellmann's disappearance, Bennett left the country with their daughter. Court documents reveal Bennett has been served with the petition in England where he has announced on Facebook he took his soon to be one-year-old daughter Emelia. 

The emergency petition filed by Hellmann's sister was denied. It has since been amended. Difeo's attorney Mitchell Kitroser said he has received notice that Bennett plans to file a motion to dismiss the petition and is giving the family time to voluntarily dismiss. 

The family is heartsick and continues to hope that she'll be found," said Kitroser. "They are trying to cope as best they can." 

Court documents show in a Facebook message Bennett wrote "My parents and my sister are helping me and Emelia is fine. I don't know where I will be next month but I can't come back to Florida when Isabella's family are accusing me of these horrible things." 

A Boca Raton Police report states one of Hellmann's sisters accused Bennett of killing her sister the day he went to pick up his daughter from the family's home with a police officer escorting him. That was the last time the family saw Bennett and Emelia.

The baby was 10-months-old when Bennett left the country. 

The FBI and the Coast Guard are investigating Hellmann's disappearance, but as outlined in the petition, there is no timeline as to when the investigations will be concluded.