NY NY - Joseph Helt, 17, hiking Sam's Point ice caves, Ellenville, 16 Jan 1987

forjoe

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Reading the old articles from 1987 is troubling. The apathy and lack of passion in the quotes from the authorities and searchers is disturbing. As if "well we looked, we couldn't find him, he’s up there somewhere but....." And then little or no concern expressed for follow up or their next plan of action. (I don't think they had one) No further investigative reporting from media either. What a combo. The kid never had a chance. Ok, the case may have turned cold but if the efforts in the following years were anything like the ones in the early days no wonder there has been no resolution. I am glad to read that some of his old classmates and new investigators have revived interest in this case. This boy deserves to be found. If his death was an accident he deserves to be found for proper burial. If he was the victim of a crime he deserves justice. He was just a teenage boy. If they supposedly searched and searched something would have been found eventually. Ok they didn't find him....so I have not read anything regarding their theories as to what they think happened. Other than he fell in a crevice or off a cliff. What goes up must come down somewhere. A boy goes up a mountain and never comes down?? I will post my theories, questions and thoughts later. Something just isn’t right here…


You're absolutely right on all accounts. That's why we're pushing to get Joe's story out there. The more people hear his story, the better chance we have of getting the right people involved so that we can finally be found and given peace! Joe was just the sweetest guy and I am so frustrated with the way his case has been handled. He was the kind of guy who looked to keep the peace, who smoothed things over, who made people feel better and always had a joke to tell. He deserves so much better than this!
 

RR0004

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You're absolutely right on all accounts. That's why we're pushing to get Joe's story out there. The more people hear his story, the better chance we have of getting the right people involved so that we can finally be found and given peace! Joe was just the sweetest guy and I am so frustrated with the way his case has been handled. He was the kind of guy who looked to keep the peace, who smoothed things over, who made people feel better and always had a joke to tell. He deserves so much better than this!
Have you proposed telling his story to Dateline or 20/20? Perhaps they can do a segment on "unsolved mysteries".
 

flightlevel

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Anyone unfamiliar with this case should take a moment to look at it. Joe Helt vanished without a trace and all investigators have to go on are the word of the three acquaintances he was with the night he disappeared. The search and media efforts were apathetic at best. There are many theories and controversies as to what happened to Joe Helt. There is currently a renewed interest by media due to the efforts of some of the townspeople who knew this young man. Here is a simple link to one article regarding this case. This case goes way deeper than the obvious and is equally as haunting as the Maura Murray story.

http://www.shawangunkjournal.com/2011/01/13/news/1101130.html
 

flightlevel

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If you have a candle sitting around your house go and light it up for Joe Helt today. Today marks 25 years that he has been missing. Today his friends and family are having a candle light vigil in his hometown of Ellenville NY. I will be there in spirit and my candle will be burning.
 

flightlevel

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If you have a candle sitting around your house go and light it up for Joe Helt today. Today marks 25 years that he has been missing. Today his friends and family are having a candle light vigil in his hometown of Ellenville NY. I will be there in spirit and my candle will be burning.
 

flightlevel

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Anyone unfamiliar with this case should take a moment to look at it. Joe Helt vanished without a trace and all investigators have to go on are the word of the three acquaintances he was with the night he disappeared. The search and media efforts were apathetic at best. There are many theories and controversies as to what happened to Joe Helt. There is currently a renewed interest by media due to the efforts of some of the townspeople who knew this young man. Here is a simple link to one article regarding this case. This case goes way deeper than the obvious and is equally as haunting as the Maura Murray story.
 

RR0004

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Anyone unfamiliar with this case should take a moment to look at it. Joe Helt vanished without a trace and all investigators have to go on are the word of the three acquaintances he was with the night he disappeared. The search and media efforts were apathetic at best. There are many theories and controversies as to what happened to Joe Helt. There is currently a renewed interest by media due to the efforts of some of the townspeople who knew this young man. Here is a simple link to one article regarding this case. This case goes way deeper than the obvious and is equally as haunting as the Maura Murray story.
I couldn't open the link...but found an article from the Fall.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/n...-man-missing-for-24-years.html?pagewanted=all
 

flightlevel

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According to some of the early articles (1987) they had some helicopters in the air.
 

Satch

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Based on the new information collected from the URL links above, it sounds like someone or several someones with Joe's group of friends may not be telling the truth about what happened that night. For LE to say that the friends passed a polygraph and than one of the friends it is found not to have taken a polygraph. Something is wrong here, and I think it is very possible that the "Car stuck in the snow" bit may very well be a cover-up.

If the three friends where into drugs, could Joe have been the innocent bystander, who got caught up in a drug deal gone bad and Joe was used as a "scapegoat." Tragically, his life may have been taken, if he saw something or someone, and things got bad, and he threatened to report such a drug deal, if it even existed? Just theories and speculation. What brings me to thinking that this was MORE than the case of someone missing after they went to get help, is the apathetic attitude of LE and the community with the Missing persons posters and fliers taken down, and even LE investigators who can't comment on the case. Joe's "friends?" won't talk? Why? It may be 3rd party information, but that information may still be important. Maybe if someone was afraid to talk who may have been a witness, if granted immunity from prosecution might be willing to come forward.

However, if a crime was committed here, somebody got away with it. I don't know what to think. We need some tangible evidence that gives some truth as to whether or not this was a missing person's case or something even worse. And if the three friends are innocent, they need to come clean.

Joe's family and friends need closure and peace to find out what happened to him.

Satch
 

forjoe

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Thank you so much for your insight. We feel exactly the same way. There are people who have stated that they were threatened, told that they would "be killed if they talked". Fear is the biggest obstacle....but we're working on it. Several others have come forward with very damning information against the three, but have changed their story when it came time to speak to the investigator in charge of the case. Yet LE just throws up their hands at this and continues to say that the three are not and were never considered suspects. It's frustrating, but we'll get there!
 

forjoe

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http://coldcasesquad.blogspot.com/2012/07/mystery-on-mountain-disappearance-of.html

Mystery on the Mountain: The Disappearance of Joseph Helt
The Disappearance of Joseph Helt
Ellenville New York Case Still Haunts Town
By: Gina Schuster

Joseph Helt
It was January 16, 1987 when Joseph David Helt, age 17, from Ellenville NY, left a party with 3 acquaintances and mysteriously disappeared into the night. For 25 years, no trace of him has ever been found.

On Friday, January 16, 1987, just like many other Friday nights, Joe and other teenagers from Ellenville, NY were going up to the usual party spot, the old Mount Cathalia ski lodge. It was in Cragsmoor, just 3 miles outside of Ellenville. The ski lodge had been long ago abandoned, having been partially burned in the late 1970s. But the building next to the lodge, which served as a full bar with a fire pit when the lodge was in operation, remained intact. It was this building that the kids used as a party spot.

During the evening, Joe spent time at Mt. Cathalia talking with different people and at one point he got into a fight with three particular individuals: John LaForge, 21, Wade Marks, 18, and Kelly Diaz,16. The fight got so heated that people started to move away, for fear that it was about to get physical. After the fight Joe nervously asked someone for a ride home, but this person already had a car full of people and could not take Joe. About an hour later, Joe left the party with these three individuals in LaForge's car. Little did Joe's friends know that was the last time anyone would see him.
Mt. Cathalia

From the point that Joe left the party, the only people to see him were the three in the car with him. They claim that they went for a ride down a road not far from the party called Sam's Point Road, about 2 1/2 miles away. They claim that the car got stuck in a ditch about 1 mile from the Sam's Point Preserve gatehouse, and that after several failed attempts to get the car out, Joe got upset and left the car to walk the 5+ miles back to Ellenville. By this time it was around 3:30am in the middle of January. Joe wasn't wearing a winter coat (he had a camouflage jacket and sweatshirt on) and he did not have gloves or a hat. He was wearing high top sneakers. No winter gear at all. Marks and Diaz claim to have left 20 minutes later and walked the 2+ miles to Marks house (which was less than 1/4 mile from the original party at Mt. Cathalia in Cragsmoor). Ten minutes later LaForge claims to have walked the 2+ miles to his house which was also in Cragsmoor. Whatever really happened that night, three made it safely back home, but Joe was never seen again.

Rescue workers got up to the mountain the night of Sat. Jan. 17th to start the search. It started to flurry that night, and over the next few days a huge snow storm moved into the area dumping over 2 feet of snow on the area. The search was called off after just 6 days. Even through the storm, search and rescue teams scoured the mountain for 6 days, searching near Sam's Point and the surrounding area. The search teams included NY State Forest Rangers, State Police helicopters, tracking dogs, local police, local volunteer firefighters and numerous friends, relatives and neighbors. But nothing was ever found, no trace of Joe, no evidence that he had even been on the mountain. Joe simply disappeared without a trace. In fact, one of the NYS DEC rangers stated in newspaper articles that no tracks were ever found where the three claimed the car got stuck. He also voiced his belief that there was more to this story than was told. (see article in Times Herald Record, 4/1/1990 "Mystery on Mountain Goes Unsolved" http://tinyurl.com/76dyo3b . After spring came and the snow thawed, additional search efforts commenced, but no trace of Joe was ever found.

Within weeks of Joe's disappearance, Wade Marks was mysteriously packed up by his father and shipped to Tennessee to live with his mother. After many years in Tennessee (Hamilton County), and a very brief return to New York, Wade moved to Vermont where he still lives to this day.

Witnesses have come forward, each of whom had direct conversation with Kelly, Wade and or John. Within these witness accounts, the three each made different statements indicating that their initial account of the night's events were inaccurate and that there was a physical confrontation between Joe the three. One of the three even made statements of questionable behavior on the part of one of the three that led to something happening to Joe.

In a Times Herald Record article dated Jan. 20th, entitled "Buddies Join in Search on Ridge", LaForge told the reporter that Marks called him at 3:30pm on Sat. Jan 17th to tell him that Joe was missing (here is a link to the story: http://tinyurl.com/7kzbdxs. However, no one knew that Joe was actually missing until after 5pm on Sat. Jan 17th. LaForge is quoted in the article stating that he and Wade had knowledge that Joe was missing a full two hours before it was known that he was actually missing. Joe's mother, Lee Ann, had expected Joe to stay with friends the night of the 16th and then go to work the night of the 17th at the Napanoch Auction Barn. When Joe failed to show up for his shift, his boss, Vic, called Joe's mother, who then checked around for Joe and when it became apparent that Joe was nowhere to be found, she contacted Ellenville Police.

Joe's case was assigned in 2010 to a State Police Detective, Thomas Fortuna, and a missing persons flier was put together. It was at that time, 23 years after Joe disappeared, that he was first registered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Joe's case was added to the NYS Police Missing Person's site in April 2011. Why he was never added to these sites earlier remains a mystery. Curiously, in an NBC interview in February 2011, a NYS Police spokesperson stated that the three have never and are not considered persons of interest or suspects (http://tinyurl.com/7y8jalv).

New evidence has recently come to light which has given a couple of new leads to investigators. The investigators are in the process of following these leads right now. If things are followed up on, these leads could very well lead to answers in Joe's case.

You can read more about Joe's case on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Justice.For.Joe.Helt.. You can read news articles, watch news videos and take a look at photos of Joe on the website: http://forjoehelt.webs.com/. Joe's family is currently raising a reward for information in his case. To donate, please go to https://www.facebook.com/Justice.For.Joe.Helt/app_117708921611213.

If you have a tip, no matter how small you may think it to be, we urge you to call the lead investigator in Joe's case, Mr. Thomas Fortuna of the NYS Police. His direct phone number is 845-626-2863. You can also reach the private investigator working with Joe's family, Mr. Robert Rahn, at 1-800-490-2267.

Additional news accounts on Joe's case from 1987 to current:
http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/links/

Cold case feature articles on Joe's case:
http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/blog/

Video news footage and blog talk radio episodes on Joe's case:
http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/videos/


About the Author

Gina Schuster was Joe Helt's classmate in high school in 1987 when he disappeared. She is presently working with Joe's aunt, Beth Churchill and Joe's close friend, Jackie Mennella to raise awareness for Joe's case through social media and an independent website. Gina worked for years as an accountant and later as a marketing director in charge of the health insurance division for a business to business marketing firm until 2007 when complex and degenerative spinal and nerve issues forced her to stop working. While she is presently in a wheelchair and very physically limited, she is passionate about finding answers for Joe, for his family and for all who love and care for Joe.
 

Satch

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http://coldcasesquad.blogspot.com/2012/07/mystery-on-mountain-disappearance-of.html

Mystery on the Mountain: The Disappearance of Joseph Helt
The Disappearance of Joseph Helt
Ellenville New York Case Still Haunts Town
By: Gina Schuster

Joseph Helt
It was January 16, 1987 when Joseph David Helt, age 17, from Ellenville NY, left a party with 3 acquaintances and mysteriously disappeared into the night. For 25 years, no trace of him has ever been found.

On Friday, January 16, 1987, just like many other Friday nights, Joe and other teenagers from Ellenville, NY were going up to the usual party spot, the old Mount Cathalia ski lodge. It was in Cragsmoor, just 3 miles outside of Ellenville. The ski lodge had been long ago abandoned, having been partially burned in the late 1970s. But the building next to the lodge, which served as a full bar with a fire pit when the lodge was in operation, remained intact. It was this building that the kids used as a party spot.

During the evening, Joe spent time at Mt. Cathalia talking with different people and at one point he got into a fight with three particular individuals: John LaForge, 21, Wade Marks, 18, and Kelly Diaz,16. The fight got so heated that people started to move away, for fear that it was about to get physical. After the fight Joe nervously asked someone for a ride home, but this person already had a car full of people and could not take Joe. About an hour later, Joe left the party with these three individuals in LaForge's car. Little did Joe's friends know that was the last time anyone would see him.
Mt. Cathalia

From the point that Joe left the party, the only people to see him were the three in the car with him. They claim that they went for a ride down a road not far from the party called Sam's Point Road, about 2 1/2 miles away. They claim that the car got stuck in a ditch about 1 mile from the Sam's Point Preserve gatehouse, and that after several failed attempts to get the car out, Joe got upset and left the car to walk the 5+ miles back to Ellenville. By this time it was around 3:30am in the middle of January. Joe wasn't wearing a winter coat (he had a camouflage jacket and sweatshirt on) and he did not have gloves or a hat. He was wearing high top sneakers. No winter gear at all. Marks and Diaz claim to have left 20 minutes later and walked the 2+ miles to Marks house (which was less than 1/4 mile from the original party at Mt. Cathalia in Cragsmoor). Ten minutes later LaForge claims to have walked the 2+ miles to his house which was also in Cragsmoor. Whatever really happened that night, three made it safely back home, but Joe was never seen again.

Rescue workers got up to the mountain the night of Sat. Jan. 17th to start the search. It started to flurry that night, and over the next few days a huge snow storm moved into the area dumping over 2 feet of snow on the area. The search was called off after just 6 days. Even through the storm, search and rescue teams scoured the mountain for 6 days, searching near Sam's Point and the surrounding area. The search teams included NY State Forest Rangers, State Police helicopters, tracking dogs, local police, local volunteer firefighters and numerous friends, relatives and neighbors. But nothing was ever found, no trace of Joe, no evidence that he had even been on the mountain. Joe simply disappeared without a trace. In fact, one of the NYS DEC rangers stated in newspaper articles that no tracks were ever found where the three claimed the car got stuck. He also voiced his belief that there was more to this story than was told. (see article in Times Herald Record, 4/1/1990 "Mystery on Mountain Goes Unsolved" http://tinyurl.com/76dyo3b . After spring came and the snow thawed, additional search efforts commenced, but no trace of Joe was ever found.

Within weeks of Joe's disappearance, Wade Marks was mysteriously packed up by his father and shipped to Tennessee to live with his mother. After many years in Tennessee (Hamilton County), and a very brief return to New York, Wade moved to Vermont where he still lives to this day.

Witnesses have come forward, each of whom had direct conversation with Kelly, Wade and or John. Within these witness accounts, the three each made different statements indicating that their initial account of the night's events were inaccurate and that there was a physical confrontation between Joe the three. One of the three even made statements of questionable behavior on the part of one of the three that led to something happening to Joe.

In a Times Herald Record article dated Jan. 20th, entitled "Buddies Join in Search on Ridge", LaForge told the reporter that Marks called him at 3:30pm on Sat. Jan 17th to tell him that Joe was missing (here is a link to the story: http://tinyurl.com/7kzbdxs. However, no one knew that Joe was actually missing until after 5pm on Sat. Jan 17th. LaForge is quoted in the article stating that he and Wade had knowledge that Joe was missing a full two hours before it was known that he was actually missing. Joe's mother, Lee Ann, had expected Joe to stay with friends the night of the 16th and then go to work the night of the 17th at the Napanoch Auction Barn. When Joe failed to show up for his shift, his boss, Vic, called Joe's mother, who then checked around for Joe and when it became apparent that Joe was nowhere to be found, she contacted Ellenville Police.

Joe's case was assigned in 2010 to a State Police Detective, Thomas Fortuna, and a missing persons flier was put together. It was at that time, 23 years after Joe disappeared, that he was first registered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Joe's case was added to the NYS Police Missing Person's site in April 2011. Why he was never added to these sites earlier remains a mystery. Curiously, in an NBC interview in February 2011, a NYS Police spokesperson stated that the three have never and are not considered persons of interest or suspects (http://tinyurl.com/7y8jalv).

New evidence has recently come to light which has given a couple of new leads to investigators. The investigators are in the process of following these leads right now. If things are followed up on, these leads could very well lead to answers in Joe's case.

You can read more about Joe's case on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Justice.For.Joe.Helt.. You can read news articles, watch news videos and take a look at photos of Joe on the website: http://forjoehelt.webs.com/. Joe's family is currently raising a reward for information in his case. To donate, please go to https://www.facebook.com/Justice.For.Joe.Helt/app_117708921611213.

If you have a tip, no matter how small you may think it to be, we urge you to call the lead investigator in Joe's case, Mr. Thomas Fortuna of the NYS Police. His direct phone number is 845-626-2863. You can also reach the private investigator working with Joe's family, Mr. Robert Rahn, at 1-800-490-2267.

Additional news accounts on Joe's case from 1987 to current:
http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/links/

Cold case feature articles on Joe's case:
http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/blog/

Video news footage and blog talk radio episodes on Joe's case:
http://forjoehelt.webs.com/apps/videos/


About the Author

Gina Schuster was Joe Helt's classmate in high school in 1987 when he disappeared. She is presently working with Joe's aunt, Beth Churchill and Joe's close friend, Jackie Mennella to raise awareness for Joe's case through social media and an independent website. Gina worked for years as an accountant and later as a marketing director in charge of the health insurance division for a business to business marketing firm until 2007 when complex and degenerative spinal and nerve issues forced her to stop working. While she is presently in a wheelchair and very physically limited, she is passionate about finding answers for Joe, for his family and for all who love and care for Joe.

Wow!

This is the FIRST ARTICLE on Joe's case that talks about a fight between the three people whom Joe was with that night. (At least that I have read.) All other accounts just discuss Joe being with three people, partying at the lodge, the last time he was seen.

Satch
 

forjoe

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WITNESS STATEMENT HEATS UP JOSEPH HELT CASE: JOE WAS KILLED BY THOSE WHO WERE LAST WITH HIM IN A FIGHT OVER MARIJUANA
**Proof that the allegations are true**

One of the three told her "Joe is dead. He's not coming back."
She gave this statement to school officials back in 1987 immediately after it happened. She was told that her statement would be given to law enforcement. She recently reached out to Joe's family after they asked for any witnesses who may have given testimony years ago to please contact them so that Joe's family could make sure that any and all available information was in the hands of law enforcement. The witness gave a signed, sworn statement to the lead investigator, who told her "We believe your statement is true."

Read the story, watch the video of the witness interview with CBS NEWS:
VIDEO OF THE WITNESS' INTERVIEW WITH CBS NEWS:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TylBhQdvbes

CBS NEWS ARTICLE:
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/08...-a-quarter-century-old-upstate-n-y-cold-case/

Police state "We believe your statement"- direct quote to the witness AND WITNESS OFFERED TO TAKE A POLYGRAPH TO PROVE THE ACCURACY OF HER STATEMENT (something that is in process and will be done as soon as the arrangements are made. She is doing so ON HER OWN accord, to prove that she is telling the truth!)
 

chaddylex

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I hope that investigators find your former classmate's claim to be credible. What would she really have to gain to make something up about his case after all these years.

Have any of the 3 "suspects" been in trouble with the law since Joe went missing?
 
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