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Thread: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

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    Default JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    My friend, Joseph Helt, was just 17 years old when he went missing on 1/16/1987. He was a Junior at Ellenville High School in Ellenville, NY. Joe out late at night partying with friends at a local party spot, the remnants of the old Mount Cathalia Ski Lodge in Cragsmoor NY (which is just outside of Ellenville NY). Joe left to take a ride with three acquaintances, Kelly Diaz, Wade Marks and John "JP" Laforge. According to these acquaintances, their car got stuck in a ditch on Sam's Point Road and Joe got frustrated so he left to walk back to Ellenville. Kelly and Wade left about 20 minutes later, walking the same way that Joe did. John left 10 minutes after that and walked the short distance back to his home in Cragsmoor. All three made it home safely but Joe was never seen again.

    On January 17th when Joe failed to show up for his shift at the Napanoch Auction Barn in Napanoch, his boss, Vic, called his mother, Lee Ann. Lee Ann checked around for Joe and when it became apparent that Joe was nowhere to be found, she contacted Ellenville Police. The police and rescue workers soon scoured the Cragsmoor area looking for Joe.

    Unfortunately, as the rescue workers made it up to the mountain a major snow storm was moving into the area. Over the next several days, over 2 feet of snow fell which hampered the search. Rescue workers worked through the storm for 6 days searching for any trace of Joe but nothing was ever found. They called off the search after 6 days saying that if Joe was up there on the mountain, there was no way he could possibly survive. Search teams did go back up on the mountain in the spring after the snow melted and the ground thawed, but no trace of Joe was ever found.

    Marks, Diaz and LaForge say that the last time they saw Joe he was walking away from them when the car got stuck in the ditch. That was 24 years ago and Joe's case has gone cold. Rumors have flown all around the Village of Ellenville over the years pointing toward the three. No real evidence has ever been found. There have been several people who have come forward with information that contradicts the story told by these three, however, nothing concrete has ever been found.

    Joe's case is currently being looked into by NYS Investigator Thomas Fortuna. In October 2010 Joe's case was registered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

    In November 2010 another classmate and I were discussing the idea of starting a multi-year reunion and we remembered Joe. We wondered what ever happened with his case and I started an internet search. I discovered that he was recently entered into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and it looked like renewed interest had been sparked in his case! We decided to start a facebook support group for Joe and it really took off. (In Support of Joe Helt:http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?...217368108&ap=1) We scrapped the reunion idea as the facebook group not only required a lot of attention, but I felt that raising awareness for Joe's case was a more important to me right now.

    Over the years many rumors and thoughts have run through the town. People have pointed toward the three acquaintances who were with him that night, and we have even had several people come forward with information which contradicts the story told by the three acquaintances, including one individual who heard Kelly Diaz tell her ex-husband that the story about the car getting stuck in the ditch was just a cover story. We have even had a couple of Joe's family members come forward with information that contradicts the story told by these three acquaintances. However, even though these three have acted extremely guilty for 24 years, we have yet to find concrete proof of their guilt. Joe's case has remained a cold case for 24 years and nothing has been done for him. Unfortunately Joe's mother and father both passed away from cancer in 2007 and 2008, just 9 months apart from each other. They passed away never knowing what happened to their son. The burden of carrying on for Joe has fallen to his siblings and most of all his aunt, Beth Churchill (Joe's mother was her sister).

    Joe's missing person's flyers are continually ripped down from the local grocery store in town no matter how many we put up and when we posted posters all along the street by the high school for the candlelight vigil, they were ALL taken down within 24 hours. Well, all of them except the two that were posted on a pole that could be seen by the security camera from the high school that is. We've had things like this happening non-stop.

    On January 16, 2011, the 24th anniversary of Joe's disappearance, we held a candlelight vigil in Joe's honor. Approximately 50-60 people attended. I have attached video of the event for your review.

    We've been working hard to gain media attention, and there has been some local area media attention lately on Joe's disappearance. This is a list of recent tv news and newspaper stories covering Joe's case, as well as newspaper stories from 1987 when Joe first went missing:

    Nancy Grace‘s “America’s Missing: 50 people in 50 days”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVJnVvCNzME

    NBC (NYC) news segment:
    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local...116025154.html

    NBC (NYC) VIDEO segment:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0hD7baDT3s

    Blog Talk Radio BRING THEM HOME NOW:
    http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/vide...log-talk-radio

    Blog Talk Radio CUBANARAMA:http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/vide...log-talk-radio

    YNN Hudson Valley News Channel 6 coverage (4 stories):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snfCBxLrY38
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geiEk6xZ6BQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf0QTHzk1ic
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1Lgj0xABmE


    Shawangunk Journal article:
    http://www.shawangunkjournal.com/201...s/1101130.html
    http://www.ellenvillejournal.com/201...s/1101203.html


    Times Herald Record articles:
    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbc...WS%2F101150324
    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbc...WS%2F101170325

    Times Herald Record photos:
    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbc...6009997&Ref=PH

    Poughkeepsie Journal article:
    http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/a...sing-classmate

    Blue Stone Press article:
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id...293&aid=111979

    1987 Times Herald Record articles:
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id...293&aid=111570

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    Default Re: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    Thank you forjoe for posting Joe's information. If there is anything we can do for you or Joe's family Please let us know.
    You never know just when your post might be that one post that reaches that right person. The one person that might be able to give that little tip that leads to the safe return of someone's loved one, Someones Mom, Someones Dad, Someones Child. Please take a moment to look at all the missing people and share them with your friends and them with theirs. Together WE CAN make a difference!!~Teressa
    Feel free to pm me here on the forum

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    Default Re: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    Thank you so much! We're trying to get Joe's story out there, but one thing we REALLY need a lot of help with is getting the investigation to move along. The local and state police have stalled with this case for 24 years now and we really need help. They have NEVER even put Joe's case on the NYS police's website of missing people, nor have they (or will they) contact Crime Stoppers. They won't share ANY information with Joe's family (I'm just a friend, but I'm helping his aunt). They state that the 3 guys who were with Joe the night he disappeared, the last three people who saw him, were never considered suspects. Yet WE have had people come forward to us with information that contradicts their story. This case isn't going to go anywhere unless the police step up more in this case. Is there any advice you can give us in this area?

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    Default Re: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    I'm with Bring Them Home I was there the other night when the family was on the show. I think BTH and a few others are working with family to get more attention on the case. I will get with Rachel and them and see where things are at this time.
    You never know just when your post might be that one post that reaches that right person. The one person that might be able to give that little tip that leads to the safe return of someone's loved one, Someones Mom, Someones Dad, Someones Child. Please take a moment to look at all the missing people and share them with your friends and them with theirs. Together WE CAN make a difference!!~Teressa
    Feel free to pm me here on the forum

    Thanks for joining!

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    Default Re: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    Quote Originally Posted by Teressa View Post
    I'm with Bring Them Home I was there the other night when the family was on the show. I think BTH and a few others are working with family to get more attention on the case. I will get with Rachel and them and see where things are at this time.

    Thank you so much! We sincerely appreciate your help!

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    Default Re: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    Hi forjoe,

    First, I'd like to say what an upstanding thing for you to take on and to help the family. Second, I know first hand how it feels not to have answer's. Nevaeh Buchanan, 5 year old abducted, murdered in MI is my cousin's granddaughter. They have never found her murderer. So I completely understand the frustration you and Joe's family are feeling.

    I have a few questions, if you don't mind my asking.

    I am not pointing fingers or suggesting any of the friends were involved, but these questions help to understand the dynamic's of the situation then and now.

    Are all three acquaintance's still in the town? What was the dynamic of their relationship to Joe? You said acquaintance's, how did they know each other? Did any of them date or family members date each other? What kind of guy was Joe and what types of things was he into? Sports, good grades, etc. Did he have lots of friends or any enemies at school or work?

    Did any of the three come to the vigil? Any of their family members? Lastly, can you give us some background on the type of town Ellenville is? Small? Farming? Rural? Etc.

    Again, I want to say that I am not suggesting anyone, including Joe, are in anything criminal, just trying to get background information. Also, very important, when answering do NOT use the names of anyone other than Joe specifically. Just a generalized answer, such as "they knew each other from football (or whatever)". Thanks
    Last edited by 313girl; 05-08-2011 at 11:28:37 PM. Reason: typo
    You are always in my heart . NEVAEH AMYAH BUCHANAN And you will never be forgotten..

    Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~William James

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    Default Re: JOSEPH HELT missing for 24 years

    Quote Originally Posted by 313girl View Post
    Hi forjoe,

    First, I'd like to say what an upstanding thing for you to take on and to help the family. Second, I know first hand how it feels not to have answer's. Nevaeh Buchanan, 5 year old abducted, murdered in MI is my cousin's granddaughter. They have never found her murderer. So I completely understand the frustration you and Joe's family are feeling.

    I have a few questions, if you don't mind my asking.

    I am not pointing fingers or suggesting any of the friends were involved, but these questions help to understand the dynamic's of the situation then and now.

    Are all three acquaintance's still in the town? What was the dynamic of their relationship to Joe? You said acquaintance's, how did they know each other? Did any of them date or family members date each other? What kind of guy was Joe and what types of things was he into? Sports, good grades, etc. Did he have lots of friends or any enemies at school or work?

    Did any of the three come to the vigil? Any of their family members? Lastly, can you give us some background on the type of town Ellenville is? Small? Farming? Rural? Etc.

    Again, I want to say that I am not suggesting anyone, including Joe, are in anything criminal, just trying to get background information. Also, very important, when answering do NOT use the names of anyone other than Joe specifically. Just a generalized answer, such as "they knew each other from football (or whatever)". Thanks

    I'm sorry it took several months to answer your questions! I just got back on the forum today and noticed your post. First I want to say that I am so very sorry for all that your family is going through due to the murder of your cousin's granddaughter! I've heard of her case and have read about it. It' heart wrenching. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    As for your questions about Joe's case, here are the answers: Yes, two of the three who were with Joe in the car that night are still living in town. One was packed up within weeks of Joe's disappearance and shipped away to live with his mother (he was 17 yrs old at the time). He still to this day lives in another state. Two of the three went to school with Joe (one was 16 and in 9th or 10th grade, the other was 17 and in 12th grade. Joe was 17 and in 11th grade). The third guy was older, he was 21 years old and it was his car that they were in that night. The 21 yr old and the 17 yr old both lived within 2 miles of where they claim that the car got stuck and they claimed to have walked back to their homes after Joe left the car on his own (the 16 yr old went with the 17 yr old) which is why it's ridiculous that Joe would have left to walk 5+ miles back to town on his own in the middle of the night when 2 of them AND the party location were all within 2 miles.

    Joe knew the two guys who went to school with him, they all went to parties just like many from Ellenville HS did back then, but they weren't really good friends who hung around together or spent any time together. Joe didn't really hang around the 21 year old at all, but did know him from the parties. Everyone would hang out at the parties. Joe never dated any family members of the three. He had an on again/off again girlfriend who he loved dearly. At the time of his disappearance they were in an off period, but that was only because her father was very strict and she wasn't able to go out often in the evenings. They were very much in love even when they were in an off period. Joe was an easy going kind of guy who had a lot of friends in many different circles. He always had a smile on his face and went out of his way to make others smile. He was the guy that walked in the room and suddenly made everyone laugh and smile in spite of themselves. He was VERY artistic. He could draw rock album covers free hand from memory and they were INCREDIBLE. He wasn't into sports or anything. He didn't join clubs or things like that. He was into his art, into rock music and busy taking care of his family. He definitely had a serious side. His parents divorced when he was 10. His mom was a single mother of 4 children. Joe had 2 older sisters and one younger brother. He felt that he was the "man" of the house and he worked hard to take care of things around the house for his mom and he worked on the weekends to make some money. He worked at an auction house and the owner was actually grooming Joe to take over the business when he retired in 5-6 years. Joe didn't have enemies. He was too easy going for that. He didn't get into messes, he didn't get into fights. He was the guy that wanted things to be calm, cool and easy going. He avoided complicated people and complicated situations. He lived a simple life and liked it that way. We've talked to everyone who had any connection to Joe and there wasn't anything that was going wrong for him at the time.

    None of the three came to the vigil. Thankfully that was a very peaceful and beautiful event where many who loved Joe came together to share their feelings, their thoughts and their love for Joe. One of the three has, however, along with a couple of his friends, repeatedly attacked Joe's family on facebook and online during internet radio shows. They've even gone as far as to say "We should memorialize Joe with a stone and I know exactly where we should place it." and "Maybe if you stop obsessing about Joe your pain level wouldn't be so bad." (one of us working to gain attention for Joe's case has a complex spinal/nerve issue which affects 23 vertebrae and has left her in a wheelchair). He's also attacked others who have tried to come forward on facebook with information about the case.

    Ellenville is a small, rural town with many small minded people. (I was very happy to move out of the town 20 years ago). It's the kind of town where everyone knows what is going on with everyone. The total population is about 3700. It is a beautiful area. It consists of a small town along with a couple of surrounding rural hamlets. It's a typical "small town America" look combined with farm lands in the surrounding hamlets as well as a few industrial companies and two state prisons which employ many in the area.

    We've found a HUGE inconsistency recently in the old 1987 newspapers. One of the three stated that one of the others called him at 3pm the day after the party (the day that Joe was discovered missing) to say that Joe was missing. Here's the inconsistency: NO ONE knew Joe was missing UNTIL 5pm! Joe's mom thought he was staying at a friend's house and his friend thought he went home! And none of the three called Joe's mom to check on him, so there is NO way that they could have known that he was missing UNTIL after 5pm. 5pm is when Joe missed work. 5pm that night Joe never showed up for work and his boss called his mom. THAT is the FIRST time that anyone knew he was missing. SO there is NO way that the two could have known that Joe was missing at 3pm. Here's a link to the newspaper article: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...00001780561410

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