Joseph David Helt ** Ellenville, NY * 1987

Joseph David Helt **  Ellenville, NY * 1987

Joseph David Helt

Missing since January 16, 1987 from Ellenville, New York
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics

Date Of Birth: July 18, 1969
Age at Time of Disappearance: 17 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'9" (175 cm); 150 lbs (68 kg)
Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. Blond hir; brown eyes.
Clothing: A camouflage jacket, a t-shirt, a long sleeve thermal shirt, a grey hooded sweatshirt, and white high-top tennis shoes.
Circumstances of Disappearance
Joseph Helt was last seen on January 16, 1987, hiking near Sam's Point ice caves in Ellenville, New York.

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

New York State Police

Source Information:
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

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Comment by Brenda on July 15, 2013 at 8:48pm
Comment by Brenda on September 7, 2012 at 8:38am

Comment by Brenda on August 17, 2012 at 10:18am
Comment by Brenda on August 10, 2012 at 8:31pm

New claim 25 years after teen’s mysterious disappearance
By Stephen Loiaconi
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Fri August 10, 2012
Joe Helt went missing after a party in 1987
Classmate claims one of the last people seen with him told her he was pushed off mountain
Police: Case is an open, active missing person investigation

Seventeen-year-old Joe Helt was last seen alive on the night of January 16, 1987. He was leaving a party attended by about two dozen teens at an abandoned ski lodge in Cragsmoor, New York with three other young men. The three later told police that Helt left them behind to walk home alone when their car got stuck in a ditch during a snow storm.

Search efforts in the following days were hampered by bad weather and rough terrain, Ellenville Police Chief Phil Mattracion told HLN, but they failed to turn up any sign of the high school student. 25 years later, a former classmate has come forward with new information that a private investigator says could provide a break in the case.

According to former NYPD detective Bob Rahn, the account of Shari Schwartz is the “first bit of what seems to be credible information” he has uncovered in the two years he has been working with Helt’s family. Rahn told HLN that Schwartz, who was in a typing class with Helt in 1987, recently made contact with the family through Facebook.

Rahn said Schwartz told him she overheard two of the young men Helt left with that night talking about him on their first day back at school after his disappearance. She approached one of them and asked where Joe was.

“Joe’s not coming back. He’s dead,” the teen allegedly told her. According to Schwartz, he claimed that one of the others had pushed Helt off the mountain.

Rahn told HLN Schwartz notified the school principal and assumed investigators followed up on the information at the time, but she was surprised to learn years later that the case was never classified as a homicide.

New York State Police have now interviewed Schwartz and taken a written statement, Rahn said, but she does not think they believed her. Schwartz told WCBS she is willing to take a polygraph test, and Rahn said his company might have her do so at some point.

Rahn acknowledged that he does not know whether police are acting on Schwartz’s tip or if they have questioned the classmate she said she talked to that day about the new information. However, she is the first person he is aware of who claims to have spoken directly to any of the three young men about Helt.

“It’s not the solution to this case, but it needs to be looked at,” Rahn said.

Chief Mattracion declined to comment specifically on what is being done to investigate Schwartz’s story, but he said every lead is taken seriously.

“The only thing we can say is we follow up on every tip,” Mattracion said.

He described Helt’s disappearance as “an open, active missing person case” and said police have no information convincing them that Helt was murdered.

Mattracion said he understands the frustration that Helt’s family must feel and he sympathizes with them.

“Obviously we’d love to provide closure for the family,” he said. “Everybody would like to know what happened…The not knowing has to be the worst.”

Mattracion urged anyone with information related to Joe Helt’s disappearance to contact the state police at 845-626-2801.

For the latest crime and justice news, watch Nancy Grace weeknights at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET on HLN.

Comment by Brenda on July 18, 2012 at 7:10am

Happy Birthday Joe!

Comment by Brenda on July 18, 2012 at 6:47am
Comment by Brenda on January 17, 2012 at 6:05am

Vigil honors Ellenville teen who disappeared 25 years ago

Joe Helt's grandmother, Betty Housman, 81, of Napanoch, center; along with Stacy Bennett, Helt's cousin, right, also of Napanoch, and her daughter, Myah,10; gather with friends and family members to remember Joe, an Ellenville teen who mysteriously disappeared 25 years ago.
MICHELE HASKELL/Times Herald-Record

By James Nani
Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 01/17/12
Twenty-five years ago to the day, Ellenville High School junior Joseph Helt went up to party at the burned-out Cathalia ski lodge and was never seen again.

About 40 people were at that party on that Saturday night, according to Joe's aunt Beth Churchill. There was drinking, and probably some smoking. Maybe more.

At about 3 a.m., Joe left the party to go for a joy ride around Lake Maratanza with his friends Kelly Diaz, 15, Wade Marks, 18, and John LaForge, 21. They piled into LaForge's four-wheel-drive Subaru and headed up Sam's Point Road from the Shawangunk Ridge.

The car got stuck in a ditch. Joe got angry and, according witnesses, decided to walk home.

The next day, he failed to show up at his job at the Auction Barn in Napanoch. Not a call to his mother. Snow fell heavy for the next couple of days, impeding search efforts. Nothing was ever found. Not a shred of clothing. Not his Walkman, on which he listened to KISS and other heavy-metal music.

"It left an empty hole," said Churchill.

Inside the Pioneer Fire Hall in Ellenville on Monday night, about 30 people are standing in a circle with the lights shut off. Everyone is staring at each other in silence, holding white candles that bounce light off their concerned faces. Some are crying, some are smiling.

Eventually someone speaks up.

Joe would always stop in the hall and smile at Gina Schuster. That's why, 25 years later, even though she barely knew him, she wants to hold this vigil.

"We want to let Ellenville know that no one has forgotten Joe," said Schuster.

Jackie Manella was 17 when Joe disappeared. She would walk home from school with him. She had known him since elementary school. She saw him the day he disappeared.

"We were talking about (the band) AC/DC "» I was trying to get him to finish my art project," Manella remembers.

Everyone remembers Joe's art. His friends said he could draw album covers from memory. Manella remembers he wore huge, thick glasses. Now, 25 years later, everyone in that fire hall is still looking for answers.

Manella just wants to know what happened. "Not knowing what happened to him is the worst part," she said.

Comment by Brenda on January 17, 2012 at 6:03am
Comment by Brenda on January 17, 2012 at 6:02am

25 years of questions
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012

Freeman staff

Click to enlarge
KINGSTON — It’s been 25 years since Ellenville teenager Joe Helt went missing after a night of partying at the derelict Mount Cathalia lodge.

Much has changed in the quarter-century since that fateful Jan. 16, 1987, night. Cell phones have all but replaced land-based telephones, personal computers have become as commonplace as televisions, and there are global positioning systems that can locate almost anyone at any time.

One thing that hasn’t changed with time is the hope of family and friends that someday they will uncover the mystery behind Helt’s disappearance.

“Those of us who knew Joe never forgot him, never gave up hope that he would be found, but everybody felt it in their own personal way without reaching out to others and coming together,” said Gina Shuster, a classmate of Helt who has spearheaded a Facebook effort to keep Helt’s memory, and the search for answers, alive.

Today, to mark the date of Helt’s disappearance, family and friends of the missing teen who would now be 42 will hold a candlelight vigil from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pioneer Fire Hall, 73 Center St., in Ellenville.

“It’s important that people don’t forget Joe and what we’re trying to find out what happened,” said Helt’s aunt, Beth Churchill.

“We’re doing it to remember Joe, because that is the 25th anniversary of his disappearance,” said Shuster. “We’re giving a place for everyone to come together to share about Joe and to show support for the effort to find answers.”

In 1987, Helt was among a group of teens who claimed the Mount Cathalia lodge ruins in the hamlet of Cragsmoor as a favorite party spot. On the night he disappeared without a trace, Helt got a lift from the ruins with Kelly Diaz, Wade Marks and John “J.P.” LaForge. According to accounts later given to police by the three, rather than heading straight home, the group headed up the back roads, towards Sam’s Point, where, the three said, LaForge’s Subaru got stuck in a ditch. After trying unsuccessfully to free the vehicle, Helt decided to walk the roughly 5 miles back to the village of Ellenville.

He was never seen again.

Officials have classified Helt’s disappearance has a missing persons case.

Comment by Brenda on January 17, 2012 at 6:01am

25th Anniversary Of The Disappearance Of Joseph Helt
On Friday, January 16, 1987, 17 year old Joseph Helt of Ellensville, NY attended a party with friends. In the early morning hours of January 17th, Joe left the party with three acquaintances. He has not been seen or heard from since. 25 years later friends and family are still looking for answers.
The party is said to have been at the old Mount Cathalia ski lodge, a popular party spot for kids at the time. Unable to leave the party with his best friend, Armando Rodriguez who already had a full passenger load, Joe left with three acquaintances despite allegedly having had a heated argument with them earlier in the evening.
Reportedly, Joe along with John LaForge, Wade Marks, and Kelly Diaz left the party to go on a joy ride in LaForge’s Subaru near the Sam’s Point Ice Caves. During the ride the car became stuck in a ditch and the four were unable to get it free. Its said that Joe became frustrated and left having decided to walk five miles to town alone. According to reports Marks and Diaz left together shortly after Joe and LaForge not long after them.
Why Joe chose to walk the further distance to town alone rather than stay with the group remains a mystery. Sources say that two of the others lived within two miles of where the car was stuck. The party they had recently left was also closer than town. Some people also question why the other 3 split up and left the car at separate times rather than leaving together.
It wasn’t until late Saturday afternoon that Joe was discovered to be missing. Approximately 20 – 30 minutes after Joe failed to show up at 5 pm Saturday for his shift at the Auction Barn in Napanoch his employer contacted Lee Ann Helt, Joe’s mother. Lee had expected Joe to stay at a friend’s house the night before and after making a number of phone calls hoping to locate her son, Lee reported Joe missing.
By the time searchers got out to the area that evening it had started to snow. It continued to snow for the next few days and the worsening weather made searching difficult. To further complicate matters high winds were causing drifting making some roads virtually impassable. Searchers did all they could despite the conditions. Unfortunately, any sign of what may have happened to Joe was wiped out by the storm. There have been other searches over the years but nothing that might give a clue has ever been found.
Some believe that Joe may have died in an accident while walking back to town. Others aren’t so sure. They point to oddities like missing person flyers for Joe being torn down by an unknown person(s) within 24 hours of being hung. Others cite what they say are inconsistencies in LaForge, Marks, and Diaz’s version of events such as one report stating that LaForge said he got a call at about 3:30 pm Saturday from Marks who informed him Joe had not made it home, nearly two hours before anyone else realized Joe was missing. Some even question whether or not LaForge’s Subaru was really stuck since it was recovered before Joe was reported missing. The only thing that seems to be certain is four people left a party together and only three made it home.
In a sad turn of events Joe’s mother, Lee Ann died of cancer in 2007 not knowing what happened to her son. Other family members and friends have carried on looking for answers believing that somebody somewhere knows something that will tell them what happened to Joe 25 years ago.
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for tonight (1/16/12) to remember Joe at the Pioneer Fire Hall, 73 Center Street, Ellenville NY from 6 pm – 9 pm.
Joseph Helt’s case remains an open investigation. Anyone with information should contact the New York State Police BCI at Ellenville at (845) 626-2863.

For more information about Joseph Helt’s case please visit the official website and Facebook page. Some information and discussion can also be found on CCFTM’s forums.



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