OR OR - Hilda Victoria "Vicki" Brown, 25, Rainer, 9 Feb 1976

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Not on Namus or the Oregon State Missing Persons Clearinghouse. Going to try to get her added.

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Hilda Victoria “Vicki” Brown
D.L.C:
February 9, 1976
Location: Rainer, Columbia County, Oregon
D.O.B: June 12, 1950
Race: White/Caucasian
Age: 25
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 140lbs
Eye Color: Unknown
Hair Color: Blonde, long
Clothing: Blue and green flannel shirt, Blue jeans, zip up Green hip-hugger jacket, tan shoes with thick rubber soles and several eyelets.

Circumstances of Disappearance:
Hilda Victoria “Vicki” Brown was a bus driver for Rainier High School in Rainier, Oregon. She had worked there since 1971. She was last seen driving Bus 21 on February 9, 1976 at approximately 6:30pm. She was dropping off students who were concluding their after school activities. She was reported missing when she failed to turn up for work the next day.

When police arrived at the scene, they discovered the school’s bus garage unlocked and the bus that Vicki had been driving the previous night parked inside. The bus door was found left open, and not padlocked as it should have been. On the back of bus investigators found blood. Blood was also found on the exterior of the bus, along with two other buses. Blood consistent with a firearm being fired at close range was also found on the wall of the bus garage. Nearby investigators also found a golden tooth crown that Vicki's dentist later claimed identified was hers. Hair similar to Brown's was found at the scene. Brown’s purse was found behind the bus garage in a pond.

Evidence was gathered but officers were unable to determine who the blood belonged to. The blood was tested and was concluded to be type O, and Brown’s blood type was unknown.

Extensive searches of rural Columbia county were conducted while looking for Vicki, but no trace of her was ever found.

Victoria’s husband, Robin Eugene Brown, had been at the Dammasch State Hospital since January of 1976. They had separated 3 years prior. She had a daughter with him who was 8 at the time of her disappearance.

A 24 year old man named Stephen L. Helfin was accused, and eventually charged, of her murder. He worked as a mechanic for the same bus garage that Vicki was employed as a driver at. He originally was the one who "found" her missing purse and reported it to the police. Bloody clothing was found at his home and he owned a .44 magnum revolver believed to be the murder weapon. He was seen with the revolver the afternoon that Vicki disappeared. He was convicted without a body and was sentenced to life in prison and served time at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Oregon.

Case Media:

12 February 1976, The Longview Daily News, pg 1.
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16 February 1987, The Capital Journal, pg 14
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19 February 1976, The Longview Daily News, pg 8
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23 February 1976, The Tri-City Herald, pg 3
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7 April 1976, The Capital Journal, pg 28
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8 April 1976, The Longview Daily News, pg 1.
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17 September 1976, The Capital Journal, pg 19.
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15 October 1976, The Longview Daily News, pg 21.
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Last edited:
Mri Hilda Victoria "Vicki” (Richardson) Brown 26 of 624 B St E Rainier She was bom June 12 1950 in Seattle and has lived in the Rainier area for 20 years She was a member of the Oregon Schools Employe's Association Her father B F Richardson the second preceded her in death in 1956 Survivors include her mother Mrs. M N of Rainier a daughter K M Brown at home two brothers R L Perry of Sacramento Calif and J J Perry of Salem also many nieces and nephews Memorial services will be held Saturday at 1 pm at McVicker's Chapel on the Hill with the Rev Jack Fields officiating McVicker’s Chapel on the Hill is in charge of arrangements
 
It seems she is still missing. A book called "A Fever in the Heart" was published in 1996 by Ann Rule, an author who usually writes about crime. Hilda's case is detailed in the chapter "Murder Without a Body". The title should give enough info to say she was still missing as of 1996, 20 years later. If you search up Hilda's name, you can find the chapter in detail or at least, I did.
 
It seems she is still missing. A book called "A Fever in the Heart" was published in 1996 by Ann Rule, an author who usually writes about crime. Hilda's case is detailed in the chapter "Murder Without a Body". The title should give enough info to say she was still missing as of 1996, 20 years later. If you search up Hilda's name, you can find the chapter in detail or at least, I did.

Great find! I'll have to check if I can access it.
 
I won't write the whole chapter for obvious reasons, but I will quote one of the last lines.
“The only clever thing he did was to hide the body.”
I hope she gets added to NamUs soon.

It seems they changed the name of the suspect in the book. Maybe for his privacy or Ann, the author, wasn't given permission to use any real names other than Vicki.
 
I won't write the whole chapter for obvious reasons, but I will quote one of the last lines.
“The only clever thing he did was to hide the body.”
I hope she gets added to NamUs soon.

It seems they changed the name of the suspect in the book. Maybe for his privacy or Ann, the author, wasn't given permission to use any real names other than Vicki.

It seems they did (I was confused for a moment on who the heck Dexter was), but like you said that was possible for privacy reasons. I believe Hefflin is out of prison now, not sure if he was at the time this book was written. I'll have to check if I can hunt down a copy at one of my local libraries, super intresting stuff.

Hilda's case moved to "restricted" a couple of days ago on Namus, so hopefully someone is reviewing her case and she'll be added soon. I've never been able to find any trace of her being found. Tragic since she left behind such a young daughter, I'm sure if she's still with us she's still looking for her mother somewhere.
 
Great find! I'll have to check if I can access it.
Hi...I am Cheryl Viuhkola Pelletier, and Vicki Brown was my best friend. I was at the bus garage in Rainier the morning her killer, Steve Heflen " found" her purse. She is NOT a missing person. We never found her body. Heflen and his friends ( I believe he had help) deposed of her remains very well ( I believe they tossed her in the Columbia River). Sadly, her daughter, Kristina suffered a sad life after her mother was murdered and died several years ago.
 
Hi...I am Cheryl Viuhkola Pelletier, and Vicki Brown was my best friend. I was at the bus garage in Rainier the morning her killer, Steve Heflen " found" her purse. She is NOT a missing person. We never found her body. Heflen and his friends ( I believe he had help) deposed of her remains very well ( I believe they tossed her in the Columbia River). Sadly, her daughter, Kristina suffered a sad life after her mother was murdered and died several years ago.
Firstly, I'm very sorry for your loss.

I understand that Vicki isn't a "missing person," as what roughly happened to her is known, we just don't have her body/remains. Cases like this are usually still added to missing persons databases in hopes that their remains are one day discovered. Sometimes cases are added even if partial remains were discovered.
 
Great find! I'll have to check if I can access it.
Ann Rule was notorious for embellishing " facts" in her books. I place no value in anything she says. I asked her to admit her mistakes about Vicki but she refused
 
Ann Rule was notorious for embellishing " facts" in her books. I place no value in anything she says. I asked her to admit her mistakes about Vicki but she refused
I did notice some things in the extract I read that didn't align with what the newspapers reported. The most notable thing was Heflin's name. I did feel a bit disgusted when you said Rule refused when you asked her to correct her errors.
 
Hi...I am Cheryl Viuhkola Pelletier, and Vicki Brown was my best friend. I was at the bus garage in Rainier the morning her killer, Steve Heflen " found" her purse. She is NOT a missing person. We never found her body. Heflen and his friends ( I believe he had help) deposed of her remains very well ( I believe they tossed her in the Columbia River). Sadly, her daughter, Kristina suffered a sad life after her mother was murdered and died several years ago.

Hi Cheryl, first I'd like to extend my condolences on your loss - I can only imagine the panic and the pain you went through when she disappeared. I'm also sorry to hear about her daughter too, it seems like a tragic situation all around.

As SimGuy said before said before - I submitted Vicki's case to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons system (NAMUS) in March of last year after noticing she wasn't listed on there. I am aware she is a not considered a missing person, but my aim in submitting her was getting her listed to aid in identification if unidentified remains are compared to her profile. With the advancement of DNA technology as many older cases from the 1970's are getting solved by genetic genealogy. Her case is still pending with the last update to it made in April 2023. I am unsure when/if she would be added as it is up to NAMUS staff to approve of each case submitted by a civilian.

Ann Rule was notorious for embellishing " facts" in her books. I place no value in anything she says. I asked her to admit her mistakes about Vicki but she refused

I am also very sorry to hear about this as well, it seems disrespectful to Vicki's memory to publish inaccuracies about her, especially since it is one of the only things (initially) online that I could find on Vickyis case. As SimGuy said it seems very disgusting that Ann Rule would do that.

If you would like to share anything about Vicki and her disappearance there is a process on Websleuths to become a verified insider which would allow you to post about the case without primary sources. I'm sure you know much more about the case then anyone of us online as you lived it. To close out, once again I am very sorry for your loss. I know these online words may not seem like much but I sincerely hope life has been kind to you and Vicky's friends and family since 1976.
 

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