Sarm Heslop: Friends say missing Southampton woman was murdered amid a police cover up

  • ITV Meridian reporter Rachel Hepworth has been speaking to Sarm's best friend about her ongoing fight for answers.

Friends of a Southampton woman who disappeared from a yacht in the Caribbean three years ago exactly yesterday believe she was murdered and say the police are covering it up.

Sarm Heslop, 41, had been with her American boyfriend in St John in the US Virgin Islands on Monday 8 March 2021 when she went missing.

Her friends and family in the UK say they're appalled at the lack of police action and are still fighting for a full investigation.

Speaking to ITV News Meridian, Sarm's friend Vicki Mogridge-Percy said: "I think that we've lost her through murder, and we want the classification to change for a missing person because she's not a missing person.

Sarm Heslop’s family are investigating her disappearance with the help of a former Met commander. Credit: FindSarm/PA Media

"We want it changed to murder, as it would be done here, but that's really alien to them - they don't seem to do that.

"We haven't seen her...she's missed my son growing up. She's missed vital, important moments in everyone's life. It's awful."

Sarm was described as a fun and free-spirited person who 'really lived in the moment.'

"She was amazing to be around, an amazing friend...We will fight until the bitter end. We're not going anywhere."

"It's about justice for Sam. This is all we can do. And we will continue looking at every angle and fighting it and pursuing this forever and ever until we get our justice."

  • Sarm's friend says more needs to be done to discover what happened in the hours and days after her disappearance

Following news of alleged renovation works taking place on Siren Song, just weeks afterSarm went missing, including the reported replacement of parts of the forecabin and afreezer, David Johnston who represents the family says: “We know that Ryan Bane sailed off to Grenada and had these works done on the boat.

"Why? We have so many unanswered questions and no one from the USVIPD is willing to step up and help Sarm’s family find out what happened to their loved one."

Mr Johnston QPM is the former Commander of Homicide and Serious Crime at Metropolitan Police.

He continues: "Bane was allowed to sail off, quite literally into the sunset, without ever being challenged to tell the full story of what happened that night.”

“It’s beyond upsetting that we may never know what really happened to our friend” the team behind #FindSarm said.

Mr Johnston says US Virgin Islands Police Department (USVIPD) officers that attended the dock in Frank’s Bay at 2.30am the night Sarm went missing did not attend or search the boat.

He also claims officers that attended Frank’s Bay did not inform the coastguard of the suspected person overboard. Instead, Ryan Bane was instructed to alert the coastguard -which he did not do for another nine hours.

Sarm is described as 5 feet 8 Caucasian female of slim build. She has a bright coloured tattoo on her left shoulder featuring a seahorse, bird, butterfly and a pink flower.

A reward for anyone with information that leads to a significant breakthrough in the case is offered and anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Sarm is urged to call Crime Stoppers USVI at (800) 222-TIPS.

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The US Virgin Island’s Police Department has yet to respond to the claims.

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: "Sarm’s disappearance is understandably incredibly troubling and, as such, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary has previously provided operational support in the UK to assist the US Virgin Islands Police Department investigation.

"This involved working with the Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth, & Development Office (FCDO) to support Sarm Heslop’s family in the UK.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary cannot comment further on another force’s investigation, but will always be available to assist the US Virgin Islands Police Department as and when requested."