Husband of missing woman arrested by FBI - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Husband of missing woman arrested by FBI

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Lewis Bennett, the husband of a Delray Beach woman who went missing at sea, has been arrested by the FBI.

A statement from the FBI says Bennett was arrested without incident in West Palm Beach.

The FBI says it is anticipated that Bennett will make his first appearance in a Key West Federal Court on Tuesday.

Bennett was arrested in connection with the theft of gold and silver coins valued at approximately $100,000.

According to a criminal complaint, law enforcement became aware of coins that had been stolen from a sailing vessel named "KITTY R" that was located in St. Maarten in May 2016.

The owner of the boat told the FBI that Bennett had been working onboard KITTY R as a crewmember at the time of the theft.

The victim says the gold and silver coins were stolen by breaking open the floor of the vessel beneath a pallet of food.

In the early morning of May 15, 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard received an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon and Personal Locator Beacon activation approximately 26 nautical miles west of Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas.

Bennett also dialed the U.S. Coast Guard reporting he was in distress in the same general location around the same time.

The FBI says Lewis Bennett took only one backpack of personal items with him at the time he was being rescued from his life raft by a USCG rescue swimmer. The rescue swimmer stated that his backpack was unusually heavy.

During the search efforts, USCG recovered and transported Bennett's life raft and contents to the USCG Station in Key West where all of the items onboard were inventoried.

Among his personal items were 9 plastic tubes wrapped in clear tape containing what appeared to be silver coins.

When rescued, Bennett carried one backpack with him, the contents of which were not searched by the USCG. The FBI says the collectible coins that were recovered from the life raft only account for a portion of the total amount of coins that were stolen.

On May 23, 2017 law enforcement briefly returned the collectible coins to Bennett at his Delray Beach residence before they realized, on the same day, that they may have been stolen in 2016.  Later that day, law enforcement returned to his home to retrieve the coins that were still in sealed evidence bags. The FBI says Bennett agreed to return the items to law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers sent the victim images of the coins and tubes recovered from the belongings Bennett took with him onto his life raft. After viewing the images the victim stated the coins and tubes pictured were part of the items stolen from KITTY R.

On June 16, 2017, the FBI along with members of the United States Coast Guard Investigative Services executed a search warrant at Bennett's residence.

Search team members located two different types of gold coins in the master bedroom closet. The coins were contained in a soft case and hidden in a pair of boat shoes. There were a total of 162 gold coins recovered.

After viewing photos of the coins, the victim confirmed they were stolen from KITTY R in May of 2016.

Scripps Only Content 2017

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