Witness: Helmick claimed suicide try

A business associate of Miriam Helmick’s testified Wednesday that Helmick claimed to be in a mental-health institution after a suicide attempt in late 2008.

Helmick, whom authorities believe was living with her son in Jacksonville, Fla., at the time, said she had been admitted to an institution after she “tried to hurt herself,” according to testimony from Jeri Yarbrough, a horse breeder in Fort Lupton who had past horse-related business dealings with Miriam and Alan Helmick.

Yarbrough said Helmick didn’t offer details about the alleged incident, other than, “It’s not like I tried to shoot myself.”

The conversation happened in September 2008, after Miriam Helmick had phoned Yarbrough “out of the blue,” inquiring about the health of a horse, Yarbrough testified.

When asked why she didn’t ask more questions, Yarbrough said, “I didn’t want to know. It was getting more crazy and the whole case was just going bizarre.”

Yarbrough’s testimony came on the 10th day of the prosecution’s case against Miriam Helmick, 52, who is charged with Alan Helmick’s murder on June 10, 2008, attempted murder and 11 counts of forgery.

Yarbrough testified about a separate phone conversation with Miriam Helmick two days after Alan Helmick’s murder. Yarbrough said she was struck by Helmick’s matter-of-fact demeanor and how she volunteered information, including how police had seized her clothing from June 10 to check for “high-velocity blood spatter.”

Helmick told Yarbrough she suspected a man affiliated with Dance Junction, a former downtown dance studio in Grand Junction, had killed her husband. Yarbrough said she couldn’t recall Helmick’s reply when asked if she had reported the suspicions to law enforcement.

“The cops don’t care what I have to say,” Helmick said, according to Yarbrough’s testimony.

Helmick volunteered other bits of information during the June 12 conversation with Yarbrough, including the fact someone had set her husband’s car on fire as he was in the car on April 30, while parked outside a Delta business.

“I found out a car won’t explode if it has a full gas tank,” Helmick said, before laughing, Yarbrough testified.

The conversation eventually turned back to Alan Helmick, Yarbrough said.

“She said she was going to miss his sense of humor, and she laughed,” Yarbrough said.

When pressed by Helmick’s defense, Yarbrough said she didn’t immediately report the statements to law enforcement and doesn’t believe Miriam Helmick confided about committing crimes.

“But when you talked to law enforcement, you didn’t say you didn’t believe she had confessed to murder?” defense attorney Steve Colvin asked.

“No,” she replied.

Yarbrough’s testimony Wednesday came after a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent told jurors that Miriam Helmick’s handwriting is likely present on eight of 10 checks drawing off bank accounts controlled by her late husband.

CBI agent Brian Jordan said none of the 10 checks, totaling just more than $36,000, were consistent with known samples of Alan Helmick’s handwriting.

Witnesses have testified that Alan Helmick was the only person authorized to sign on his personal checking account, as well as an account he opened for Dance Junction, where Miriam Helmick had worked as an instructor.

The checks, ranging in amounts from $500 to $7,000, were in some cases payable to Alan Helmick for cash and signed “Alan C. Helmick,” or, purportedly signed by him and payable to Dance Junction or Miriam Helmick.

Helmick’s trial will resume Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.


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