Saturday, May 2, 2009

48 Hours Mystery

In April of 2008, the CBS news series 48 HOURS MYSTERY covered the Christa Helm murder. For the next few days, the name Christa Helm went from being unknown to becoming one of the most searched for Google keywords. CBS had sent a producer out to interview my wife and myself as well as to New Jersey to visit with my collaborator, John O'Dowd. Our names appeared in the closing credits with a "Special thanks." the episode would rerun in October of 2008 with new information on the main murder suspect.


Watch CBS Videos Online
Originally published at Booksteve's Library on 4/26/08



Here's the official Press Release from CBS for the 48 HOURS MYSTERY broadcast. I'm still questioning a couple of the "facts" that don't quite jibe with John's and my research but it certainly looks like they have found new information...including an unexpected SOPRANOS connection!!




April 25, 2008


A YOUNG HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS BECOMES THE BLACK DAHLIA OF THE 1970’S,
LEADING INVESTIGATORS INTO A WEB OF SEX AND CELEBRITY –
DID SHE KNOW TOO MUCH?

A STAR OF “THE SOPRANOS” MAY HAVE SOME ANSWERS…

“48 HOURS MYSTERY,” SATURDAY, APRIL 26

In 1977, aspiring actress Christa Helm, who appeared in television shows such as “Wonder Woman” and “Starsky and Hutch”, was found stabbed and bludgeoned to death in front of her agent’s house. Now, 31 years after the case went cold, Helm’s daughter and investigators sort through a twisted web of sex, celebrity and possible blackmail in the hopes of finally finding her killer.

Helm was the classic small-town girl with big Hollywood dreams. Armed with her model-looks, the seductive blond left Milwaukee, Wis., and her daughter, eventually making her way to Hollywood. A fixture in the L.A. party scene, Helm was rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. Never at a loss for male attention, she kept company with a who’s who of A-list actors and musicians including Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger and even the Shah of Iran.

In what many suspect was groundwork for blackmail, Helm kept a diary and even tape recordings of her star-studded sexcapades, both of which mysteriously disappeared after her murder. But Helm’s sex life was not limited to celebrities. A special cold case squad recently uncovered a long string of boyfriends and girlfriends that Helm had left in her wake, sometimes having multiple affairs at the same time and possibly breeding jealousy among those involved.

With many of Helm’s friends now dead or missing, and other insiders refusing to talk, the case has hit numerous dead ends. Among those declining to speak with police is Tony Sirico, better known for his role as Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos”, who investigators believe may have some useful information.

Despite these obstacles, Helm’s daughter and authorities remain undeterred in their quest for answers. Was Helm in over her head, murdered to shut her up? Was she the victim of a jealous lover? Or, was this simply a case of robbery?

Maureen Maher reports on 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "The Last Take," on Saturday, April 26 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. This broadcast is produced by Chuck Stevenson and Paul Ryan, and Anthony Venditti is the field producer. Judy Tygard is the senior producer and Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.

Click here to watch an excerpt of Christa Helm's movie debut, "Let's Go For Broke."
Originally published at Booksteve's Library on 4/27/08

So...anybody catch anything interesting on TV this weekend? Seriously, I think Anthony Venditti and crew did a pretty good job with Saturday evening's Christa Helm investigation on 48 HOURS MYSTERY. Christa was a complex, complicated and conflicted woman but she was also a strong, smart, charismatic woman. It's easy to call her names for her lifestyle and her excesses but the seventies WERE the "Me Decade" after all and she was hardly alone in those ways. It's just that she's the only one we're holding under a microscope here. No matter what, she certainly didn't deserve the violent ending fate dealt her.


One of the pluses to the show has been the immediate resurgence of interest in the case. I'm told that on Sunday at one point, the Top Ten Google searches including 9 on the football draft and Christa! One of the minuses would be the rampant promoting of mistaken "facts" as if they're real as well as the surprising amount of judgemental posts about her. One poster described her as a celebrity "groupie." Nope. Can't give you that one. A traditional groupie is submissive to the celeb of her choice. Christa Helm was drawn to powerful men and knew how to utilize her charms to get what she wanted from them--publicity, money, gifts, houses, career boosts.

There's also been a lot of self-righteous taking her to task for abandoning her daughter. I'll grant you it certainly seems a terrible thing to do but I've spoken with her daughter and I'm happy to say she has turned out just fine thanks to the way she WAS raised. Had she been more involved in Christa's quest for fame and show business success, the odds would have been quite different.

Finally, I would never presume to know more than a retired LAPD detective but I have to say that the Sal Mineo connection that he so strongly espoused on the show seems very unlikely to me. In our own investigation, we came across the contemporary speculation about a connection. There was also talk of Christa's murder being connected to that of actress Barbara Colby. In actuality, none of the three cases are all that similar and Mineo's, in spite of the coincidence of the date being exactly one year earlier, appears completely unrelated to me.

If anyone reading this knew Christa Helm or has any information at all on her life and/or career, please contact me at booksteve@aol.com .

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