VA VA - Ed Keyton, 81, Martha, 54, & Flora Helmick, 52, Bridgewater, 3 Aug 1973

Discussion in '1970's Missing' started by Richard, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    John Edwin Keyton
    Missing since August 3, 1973 from Bridgewater, Rockingham County, Virginia
    Classification: Missing

    Vital Statistics

    Age at Time of Disappearance: 81 years old
    Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. He is one legged.
    AKA: Ed



    -----------------------------------------
    Flora Vesta Smith Helmick
    Missing since August 3, 1973 from Bridgewater, Rockingham County, Virginia
    Classification: Missing

    Vital Statistics
    Age at Time of Disappearance: 52 years old
    Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'0"; 200 lbs.
    Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Gray hair; brown eyes. She had no teeth.
    Medical: She was tongue-tied; mildly mentally handicapped; she had injured her back the year before in a car accident.
    AKA: Flory

    ============================

    Martha Smith Helmick
    Missing since August 3, 1973 from Bridgewater, Rockingham County, Virginia
    Classification: Missing

    Vital Statistics
    Age at Time of Disappearance: 54 years old
    Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'0"; 200 lbs.
    Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Gray hair; brown eyes. She had no teeth.
    Clothing: She was wearing red sneakers.

    --------------------------------------

    Circumstances of Disappearance John Edwin Keyton, Flora Helmick, and Martha Helmick were last seen around noon on August 3, 1973 in Bridgewater, Virginia.

    They were due at a reunion in Dabolt, Kentucky that had been scheduled for the following day at the home of Leroy Keyton, the brother of Ed.

    When they didn't show up at the reunion, the family began calling relatives and neighbors who might have seen the trio. Eventually the police were brought into the process when the family could find no answers.

    Keyton picked up a Social Security check before leaving, but probably for no more than $50.

    Ed Keyton was not known as a skillful driver. He was convicted of traffic violations in Rockingham County Court at least four times before his license was taken away, but he continued to drive. He often took little used roads to avoid the police. The year before he disappeared he wrecked his car injuring Flora Helmick's back. Police would stop him and place charges, however Ed kept on driving.

    Ed Keyton a illiterate World War I veteran was ruled incompetent by Rockingham Circuit Court in 1932 and a "committee," or guardian, was appointed to take care of his affairs.

    George "Buddy" Price, who was Keyton's committee when he vanished, said the missing man often would leave the area, perhaps to visit relatives in Ohio, without telling anyone.

    Keyton was a local World War I hero with a reputation as an eccentric. He lost his left leg during the war and, acquaintances say, returned home shellshocked.

    Investigators
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

    Bridgewater Police Department
    540-828-2611
    Source Information:

    Daily News Record
    The Doe Network: Case File 1919DMVA

    LINK:

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1919dmva.html
     
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  3. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Bumping case up...
     
  4. Fin

    Fin New Member

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    this case is sadly not on Namus.
     
  5. necco

    necco New Member

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    If he was staying off interstates to avoid the police, he was trying some pretty challenging roads through the Appalachian mountains. I wonder if they had an accident someplace remote or into a body of water.
     
  6. nerosleuth

    nerosleuth Active Member

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    I found an ocr text of a newspaper article regarding the trio’s disappearance that was published on January 24, 1974 in the Danville Register from Danville, Virginia.

    The newspaper article reported that John Edwin Keyton, Flora Vesta Smith Helmick, and Martha Smith Helmick were last seen in Bridgewater, Virginia around noon on Friday August 3, 1973 when they left heading for a family reunion at Dabolt in Jackson County, Kentucky.

    A local resident who was the last person to see the trio alive together in Bridgewater noted that John Edwin Keyton never revealed what route he took the year before driving to Kentucky, but he did mention going through White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

    It was speculated in the newspaper article that the trio may have traveled through Beckley, West Virginia, and crossed into Kentucky near Pikeville. Then from Pikeville, the trio may have traveled through Hazard, Kentucky on their way to Dabolt in Jackson County, Kentucky.

    A sister of the Helmick women noted that Martha Helmick always sent souvenir postcards to friends and relatives when she traveled, but nothing has been heard from her.

    The newspaper article reported that during the last decade Keyton had lost his drivers license and had continued to operate a motor vehicle. Keyton had also wrecked his car the year before during a previous journey to Kentucky.

    A month before his disappearance, Keyton had purchased the 1967 light green Ford Fairlane from a Harrisonburg, Virginia car dealer.

    Acquaintances of the missing trio believe the most logical explanation concerning their disappearance is that their vehicle had plunged off a mountain road somewhere.

    Source:

    http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/22598129/
     
  7. nerosleuth

    nerosleuth Active Member

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    I also happen to notice that Virginia newspaper article never mentioned anything concerning the weather conditions on the day the trio left for the family reunion trip to Kentucky.

    After searching the weather underground website, I was able to find out what the weather conditions were when the trio left Bridgewater, Virginia on August 3, 1973.

    The weather station in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which is 8 miles from Bridgewater, reported that at noon on August 3, 1973, there were fog and the visibility was only 3 miles in that region.

    There was speculation from the newspaper article that the missing trio may have traveled through southern West Virginia before going into eastern Kentucky.

    The weather station at Beckley, West Virginia reported that during the afternoon and evening of August 3, 1973, there were drizzle and the visibility was only 4 miles in that region.

    The weather station at Bluefield, West Virginia reported that during the afternoon and evening of August 3, 1973, it was overcast and the visibility was only 2 miles in that region.

    The weather station at Hazard, Kentucky reported that during the afternoon and evening of August 3, 1973, there were scattered clouds and the visibility was 10 miles in that region.


    Sources:

    http://www.wunderground.com/history...reqdb.zip=22801&reqdb.magic=1&reqdb.wmo=99999


    http://www.wunderground.com/history...reqdb.zip=25801&reqdb.magic=1&reqdb.wmo=99999


    http://www.wunderground.com/history...reqdb.zip=24701&reqdb.magic=1&reqdb.wmo=99999


    http://www.wunderground.com/history...reqdb.zip=41701&reqdb.magic=1&reqdb.wmo=99999
     
  8. nerosleuth

    nerosleuth Active Member

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    I took a good look at my DeLorme maps that I have of the back roads of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

    After looking carefully at the road maps, it is my belief that Keyton drove on the back mountain roads west of Interstate 81 after he left Bridgewater.

    The road maps revealed that there are mountain ranges along the Virginia-West Virginia border. And the distance from the Virginia-West Virginia border to Bridgewater is 30 miles.

    I believe the back mountain roads that Keyton mostly drove on were county roads and farm roads in remote areas. If Keyton did drive anywhere along a state route, it had to be through small rural towns without a police force. I think he likely avoided going through the county seats of every county that he drove through along his journey.

    I do acknowledge the fact that there are many possible back road routes Keyton could have taken once he left Bridgewater. There are two possible areas that Keyton could have driven through.

    The first possibility is that from Virginia, Keyton could have taken any of the back roads going into West Virginia anywhere between U.S. Route 33 and Interstate 64. Then Keyton likely drove on the back roads in southern West Virginia somewhere between Beckley and Bluefield before crossing into Kentucky from Williamson. Then Keyton likely drove on the back roads somewhere in eastern Kentucky between Pikeville and Dabolt.

    The second possibility is that Keyton could have taken any of the back roads west of Interstate 81 in Virginia, going from Bridgewater to Bluefield, and then taking back roads to enter eastern Kentucky somewhere along the Virginia-Kentucky border.

    It is possible that Keyton could have taken a remote back mountain road that existed in 1973 which no longer exists today. I’m thinking of roads that weren’t blacktopped, such as dirt or gravel access road.

    I believe the poor visibility and rainy weather may have caused Keyton to have an accident on a remote mountain road somewhere in Virginia, West Virginia, or Kentucky.

    It is possible that the vehicle went off a remote mountain road that didn’t have any guardrails and landed on a very steep embankment that is covered with heavy foliage from trees and thick shrubs.

    The location of the wreckage likely cannot be seen at a distance from the mountain road or it cannot be seen and reached from the bottom of the steep embankment.

    It is also possible that the vehicle went off the remote mountain road somewhere and landed into the bottom of a reservoir, river, or pond.
     
  9. MissJ

    MissJ New Member

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    Interesting case. The road from Williamson to Pikeville was particularly challenging back then.
     
  10. nerosleuth

    nerosleuth Active Member

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    Yes, I remember that a lot of the mountain roads were two lane roads with very sharp S curves back then.
     
  11. TedMac

    TedMac Well-Known Member

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    43 years ago last week-still no answers.
     
  12. Ladeegreenii

    Ladeegreenii New Member

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    Bumping this.

    My grandmother, Flora and Martha's sister mentioned in the article above, died last year still not knowing what happened to her sisters.
     
  13. Firediver

    Firediver New Member

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    Could you please contact me with any details you may have? Fire Dept Dive Team that I work for has recovered a vehicle with similar details of this case. Any and all information would help.
     
  14. TedMac

    TedMac Well-Known Member

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    From Post #1 of this thread by Richard:

    "Circumstances of Disappearance John Edwin Keyton, Flora Helmick, and Martha Helmick were last seen around noon on August 3, 1973 in Bridgewater, Virginia.

    They were due at a reunion in Dabolt, Kentucky that had been scheduled for the following day at the home of Leroy Keyton, the brother of Ed.

    When they didn't show up at the reunion, the family began calling relatives and neighbors who might have seen the trio. Eventually the police were brought into the process when the family could find no answers.

    Keyton picked up a Social Security check before leaving, but probably for no more than $50.

    Ed Keyton was not known as a skillful driver. He was convicted of traffic violations in Rockingham County Court at least four times before his license was taken away, but he continued to drive. He often took little used roads to avoid the police. The year before he disappeared he wrecked his car injuring Flora Helmick's back. Police would stop him and place charges, however Ed kept on driving.

    Ed Keyton a illiterate World War I veteran was ruled incompetent by Rockingham Circuit Court in 1932 and a "committee," or guardian, was appointed to take care of his affairs.

    George "Buddy" Price, who was Keyton's committee when he vanished, said the missing man often would leave the area, perhaps to visit relatives in Ohio, without telling anyone.

    Keyton was a local World War I hero with a reputation as an eccentric. He lost his left leg during the war and, acquaintances say, returned home shellshocked.

    Investigators
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

    Bridgewater Police Department
    540-828-2611
    Source Information: "

    Daily News Record
    The Doe Network: Case File 1919DMVA

    LINK:

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1919dmva.html
     
  15. TedMac

    TedMac Well-Known Member

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    Also, here is post #5 from Nerosleuth. It mentions a vehicle he may have been driving.

    "I found an ocr text of a newspaper article regarding the trio’s disappearance that was published on January 24, 1974 in the Danville Register from Danville, Virginia.

    The newspaper article reported that John Edwin Keyton, Flora Vesta Smith Helmick, and Martha Smith Helmick were last seen in Bridgewater, Virginia around noon on Friday August 3, 1973 when they left heading for a family reunion at Dabolt in Jackson County, Kentucky.

    A local resident who was the last person to see the trio alive together in Bridgewater noted that John Edwin Keyton never revealed what route he took the year before driving to Kentucky, but he did mention going through White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

    It was speculated in the newspaper article that the trio may have traveled through Beckley, West Virginia, and crossed into Kentucky near Pikeville. Then from Pikeville, the trio may have traveled through Hazard, Kentucky on their way to Dabolt in Jackson County, Kentucky.

    A sister of the Helmick women noted that Martha Helmick always sent souvenir postcards to friends and relatives when she traveled, but nothing has been heard from her.

    The newspaper article reported that during the last decade Keyton had lost his drivers license and had continued to operate a motor vehicle. Keyton had also wrecked his car the year before during a previous journey to Kentucky.

    A month before his disappearance, Keyton had purchased the 1967 light green Ford Fairlane from a Harrisonburg, Virginia car dealer.

    Acquaintances of the missing trio believe the most logical explanation concerning their disappearance is that their vehicle had plunged off a mountain road somewhere.

    Source:

    http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/22598129/"
     
  16. Firediver

    Firediver New Member

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    Thank you. I read the previous information and articles related. Was wondering if anyone had personal ties to the family to answer additional questions?
     
  17. TedMac

    TedMac Well-Known Member

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    Did you read post #11? They claim to be a relative of one of the missing women.
     
  18. Firediver

    Firediver New Member

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    Yes. I messaged her/him as well.
     
  19. Tricia

    Tricia Owner Websleuths.com Staff Member Administrator

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    PLEASE READ CAREFULLY THIS ENTIRE POST

    Dear Websleuths Members,

    On August 3rd, 1973 three people went missing from Bridgewater Virgina.

    The Bridgewater Virginia Chief of Police, J. M. Simmons, has reached out to Websleuths for help.

    Recently a car matching the description of the vehicle believed to be driven by missing John Edwin Keyton with passengers Flora and Martha Helmick, (also missing) has been found along with some skeletal remains

    Chief Simmons needs to find a relative of the missing to conduct DNA testing to see if the remains match any of the missing people.

    What we need from you Websleuths members is for you to dig and find anyone who could be related to:


    *John Edwin Keyton

    *Flora Vesta Smith Helmick

    *Martha Smith Helmick

    You can find all the vital statistics, detailed information, and discussion posts by clicking on this thread VA - Ed Keyton, 81, Martha, 54, & Flora Helmick, 52, Bridgewater, 3 August 1973

    If you have any questions please post them at the link above. Feel free to send me a private message or email me at triciastruecrimeradio@gmail.com

    Here comes the part you need to understand and follow closely because it goes against our normal rules:

    If you find someone you believe could be related to any of the three people missing EMAIL Chief Simmons at jsimmons@bridgewater.town

    Please do not contact anyone you find who could be related to these three people. Email Chief Simmons all the information and his office will contact them.

    If you think you may be related to the missing, please call Chief Simmons ASAP at 540-828-2611.

    Everyone, it is imperative that we handle this properly. Chief Simmons is very grateful and is giving us a chance to show what we know we can do.

    This one time only, you are allowed to sleuth any family members you can find BUT, do not contact them. Send Chief Simmons any information you find out about possible family members to jsimmons@bridgewater.town.

    This case is very old and the missing people were middle-aged to elderly back when they went missing in 1973. If anyone can do it you all can.

    For the in-depth details including vital stats of the missing, to continue to discuss, or to post a question go toVA - Ed Keyton, 81, Martha, 54, & Flora Helmick, 52, Bridgewater, 3 August 1973
    Lastly, please use your common sense. Yes, you can post about where you are looking and what you may have found but please do not post any contact information of the possible relatives. For example, you can post, "Hey I found a granddaughter first name Gina ( I would not post any last names) in VA, Sending the police chief more info now". Again, just common sense when it comes to protecting innocent people's information

    You are the best there is when it comes to sleuthing. Thank you for coming to Websleuths to help people you don't even know.

    Tricia
     
  20. MelmothTheLost

    MelmothTheLost Well-Known Member

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    I was just about to point this out, in connection with Tricia's post today, but you were there ahead of me.

    I'm guessing that if a family match to the two women can be established by DNA, the driver would have to be Ed by default.

    I wonder where the car was found.
     
  21. Elainera

    Elainera Well-Known Member

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    Could Tricia email this person directly? They might not check their pm here.
     

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