People Magazine Investigates Recap For Blood Ties
People Magazine Investigates: Blood Ties focuses on the murder of Helene Pruszynski, who was murdered in 1980. She was only 21 years old and a college student at the time of her death. She was intelligent and talented, known for her big heart.
ABOUT HELENE/DAY OF MURDER:
She was a journalism major in college and landed an internship at radio station KHOW, Her boss there even helped her find a permanent job.
On January 16, 1980, she failed to come home after her internship. Her family was frantic, because she never failed to return home and always called if she was going to be late. Helene’s aunt called the police, who requested a picture and a description of what she wore that day. When Helene was officially declared missing, parents were notified. They hopped on a plane and arrived in Denver the very next day.
However, they arrived to bad news. Helene’s body was found by a woman and her son. She was brutally raped and murdered, with footprints of boots found at the scene. It was a huge shock to the community.
They took her body for an autopsy and collected DNA evidence. She was bound, stabbed (causing her lungs to collapse) and raped. While this is happening, Helene’s parents and other family members hear about the body being found on the news. It wasn’t long before they were called to identify her body. Her mom was devastated, while her dad felt guilt over letting her take the internship.
THE INVESTIGATION BEGINS
Once her body was identified, her steps were retraced. She had followed her usual routine that day, including taking the bus home. The driver and riders remember her and recall that she talked about her internship before leaving and walking the three blocks to her aunt and uncle’s house. They determine that this is where she was kidnapped. Since she was so new to town, it was unlikely that she knew her attacker.
The police look into other rape cases in town, including one that took place only an hour before Helene’s murder. One of the women says her rapist was a man in a green hoodie that wore cowboy boots.
This information is released to the public, hoping to get some leads. They got one from a woman who saw a suspicious man, but since it was so vague, they put her under hypnosis to get more clues, including his build, and hair, but sadly, it didn’t help.
The case stayed cold for three years…..until 1983 when a man named Hendy Lee Lucas is arraigned for murder. He is said to have killed over 100 women cross country, along with his friend Otis Toole. They are both questioned and there is a confession from each of them. However, in the end, it turns out the confessions were false, therefore, eliminating them as suspects.
There was also proof that there was only one killer, due to the footprints found at the scene.
The case was cold for fifteen years, until DNA was put into the system and a profile was developed. Her family also went to the area on the 25th anniversary of her death in hopes of getting new information.
Sadly, Helene’s brother died in 2009 and her parents died in 2012, without finding any answers. Her sister and close friends were still determined to solve the case.
TECHNOLOGY CATCHES THE KILLER
In 2015, Sheriff Tony Spurlock developed a cold case unit, which put Helene’s case on the top of the list. Thanks to new genealogy programs, they have new hope in finding the killer. Such programs follow family trees and can be used as references. This is how the Golden State Killer was caught.
Through their research, they find a woman named June Estes, who has sons that might be connected to the case. She had given them up when they were younger, but thanks to a distant cousin, they were able to find William and Curtis Allen White. William’s DNA is a similar match, while Curtis, who was previously charged with rape and living under an assumed name, is the prime suspect. His previous mugshot is also a spitting image of the sketch that the police did at the beginning of the case.
JUSTICE IS SERVED!
At the time of this discovery, investigators learned Curtis had a child, grandchildren and several ex-wives. He also worked as a truck driver and lived a secluded life in Florida. They decided to tail him and discovered he was a regular at a bar. This led to them getting DNA off a beer mug and getting a match!
Investigators question Curtis, now going by James Clanton, gives them most of the information that they want, until he is shown a picture of Helene. At that point, he asks for an attorney and told there is a warrant for his arrest in the case.
As they begin to take him to the airport, he asks to make a pit stop and ultimately ends up confessing to kidnapping, raping and murdering Helene. He had initially planned on letting her go, but killed her because he could not risk her saying anything and him going back to jail.
He pleads guilty and Helene’s sister is notified, thrilled that the killer was found and brought to justice.