HOPES are fading that a Brit missing for three weeks will be found safe and well – as cops on the US Virgin Islands narrow their search to a series of uninhabited islands.
Sarm Heslop, 41, disappeared on March 8 – and her boyfriend, 44-year-old American Ryan Bane, has now sailed off on his £500,000 yacht after spending weeks at anchor.
Police leading the investigation into the disappearance of Brit Sarm Heslop, 41, are searching uninhabited islands[/caption]
Officers have also shifted their focus further inland – suggesting they no longer expect to find her at the water’s edge.
A well-placed source told the publication: “At this point, the possibility of finding a body washed up on shore is considered highly unlikely.
“That window of possibility is gone.”
The areas being searched include Steven Cay, a rocky island about half a mile west of St. John, where Sarm was living with Bane on his catamaran before she disappeared.
The popular tourist destination attracts kayakers, diver and snorkellers, although no one lives there.
Police are also searching the north side of St. John, from Salomon Beach to Watermelon Cay.
Officers are searching Steven Cay, a rocky island about half a mile west of St. John, where Sarm was living with Bane on his catamaran[/caption]
No fingertip search of the catamaran has been carried out, and Bane has now vanished[/caption]
Both can only be reached via a small boat or by hiking through the Virgin Islands National Park.
The US Virgin Islands is made up of three main islands – St. John, St. Thomas and St Croix – and 50 other islands and cays, many of which are uninhabited.
The source told the paper: “Many of the areas they’re searching aren’t accessible by land at all.
“There are very few people over there – just the park rangers’ homes and a few small tiki-type bars.”
On Friday, detectives admitted they had no idea where their key witness Bane had gone after his boat, the 47ft Siren Song, left secluded Frank Bay on St. John.
No legal restrictions had been placed on his movements.
And the previous Wednesday, Bane was pictured swigging beer on the deck of his plush yacht after refusing to allow cops on his luxury liner.
The disappearance of Flybe air hostess Sarm has raised serious questions about the urgency of the investigation on the island.
Bane – a convicted wife-beater – did not speak when The Sun invited him to comment further on Sarm’s disappearance.
Police in the US Virgin Islands are continuing to treat Sarm’s disappearance as a missing persons inquiry[/caption]
Sarm met Bane on Tinder before travelling to the Caribbean to work as a cook on his catamaran[/caption]
Cops stress he is not a suspect in Sarm’s disappearance, but the island police and the FBI still want to speak to him in detail about her.
He told officers that Sarm, of Southampton in Hampshire, vanished without trace from the catamaran when it was anchored overnight.
Sources say Bane, of Michigan, is still in the area.
Sarm met Bane on Tinder eight months ago and travelled to the Caribbean to work as a cook on his $500,000 vessel, which he charters out for more than $2,000 a day.
The couple were last seen by a barman in Cruz Bay, the main tourism hub in St. John.
Bane then rang 911 in the early hours of the morning to say he had woken to find Sarm gone – but her belongings onboard.
Despite a massive sea and land search, no trace of the Brit has been found.
One of Bane’s pals told the Mail: “I think he’s scared, I think he’s totally spun out.
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“He is definitely bereaved. He had finally found a girl he was in love with.”
And he fears “something could be spun the wrong way”, the friend claimed.
Sarm’s parents Peter Heslop and Brenda Street said in a statement: “We would like assurance that the authorities in the Virgin Islands are doing everything possible to find her, and that the investigation into our beautiful and cherished daughter’s disappearance includes a comprehensive fingertip search of the boat.”