Woman accused of killing husband

Sheriff’s Department silent on Whitewater case details

A woman who found her husband’s body inside their Whitewater home earlier this year and called 911 to report a possible robbery was arrested Monday on suspicion of murdering him.

Miriam Helmick, 51, was arrested in Florida for investigation of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and 11 counts of forgery in connection with the slaying of
62-year-old Alan Helmick. She is being held in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville on $2 million bond.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said two sheriff’s investigators who traveled to Florida over the weekend worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S.
Marshals Service to take Miriam Helmick into custody. He said he did not know exactly where she was when she was arrested, although Miriam Helmick has family in the
Jacksonville area, including her stepson.

Miriam Helmick is expected to appear in a Florida courtroom, possibly as soon as today, and face proceedings to extradite her back to Colorado.

Hilkey declined to discuss what led investigators to arrest her. The warrant for her arrest has been sealed.

The sheriff did say that Miriam Helmick “was not a person that could be eliminated (as a suspect) from the very beginning.”

“We’re pretty confident we’ve got the right person,” he said.

Alan Helmick, a Delta native who owned several businesses on the Western Slope, was shot in the head on June 10 inside the couple’s home at 34999 Siminoe Road. The Mesa County Coroner’s Office ruled his death a homicide.

In explaining the attempted-murder charge listed on the warrant, sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said investigators believe Miriam Helmick attempted to kill her husband once before, although Benjamin could not provide more details. She declined to offer information explaining the forgery counts.

Barb Watts, who owns a ballroom dance studio in Gulfport, Miss., and used to employ Miriam Helmick there, said she wasn’t surprised by the news of Miriam’s arrest.

“Miriam is a very, very powerful lady and she plans things very, very well and wisely,” she told The Daily Sentinel in a phone interview from Mississippi.

Watts said she got to know Miriam Helmick after Helmick attended a dance at the studio one night in 2001. She said Miriam Helmick was a “dynamic” woman and experienced dancer.

“I thought she was dynamite,” Watts said. “She was the greatest thing that every came by. We put her to work.”

Watts said she hired her as a dance instructor. But their relationship faltered, Watts claimed, after Miriam Helmick stole money from her. Watts said Helmick wasn’t prosecuted because authorities in Mississippi were overwhelmed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, although Watts’ claims couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

Miriam Helmick moved to Grand Junction in 2005 and met Alan, who was one of her students at a dance studio. They married in 2006.

“She was after a hot sugar daddy,” Watts said of Miriam Helmick. “She wanted someone to take care of her.”

Watts said she faxed information about her problems with Miriam Helmick to Alan and advised him to be wary of her.

“I asked him to watch his bank account. I told him to be careful,” she said. “He was so much in love.”

Alan Helmick’s daughter, Portia Vigil, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Colleen Scissors, a Grand Junction attorney Miriam Helmick retained after Alan’s death, also could not be reached for comment.

This is the second time Miriam Helmick has had a husband die from a gunshot wound to the head. Her first husband, 52-year-old Jack Giles, died on April 15, 2002, in Jacksonville. As with Alan Helmick, Miriam Helmick — she was then known as Miriam Giles — was the person who reported finding Jack Giles dead.

The Duval County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Jack Giles’ death a suicide.

Officer Melissa Bujeda, spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, said investigators revisited the Giles case upon learning of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation into Alan Helmick’s death. She said the lead investigator in the Giles case and a Mesa County sheriff’s investigator have discussed their cases with each other but that the Giles case remains a “closed suicide incident.”

“We did not discover anything new or anything that would merit reinvestigating our case,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Sentinel.


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