48-Year Disappearance Solved

On August 3, 1973, three Bridgewater residents–Ed Keyton, Flora Helmick, and her sister Martha Helmick–left town for a family reunion in Dabolt, Kentucky. The trio departed in Mr. Keyton’s 1967 Ford Fairlane. After a short stop in Monterey…the trio was never seen again.

Theories were tossed around over the years about their disappearance. Did they drive off a mountain? Into a lake? Ambushed? While multiple leads were followed over the years, no evidence of their whereabouts ever came to light.

In 2016, the Lexington (Kentucky) Fire Department located a vehicle with human remains while performing a training exercise in the Kentucky River near the Valley View Ferry. The old, rusty car was pulled from the river and identified as a 1967 Ford Fairlane. Local authorities began the work of identifying the remains. Investigators learned about the Bridgewater disappearance, and reached out to the Bridgewater Police Department, who shared with them information about the case. It appeared that this long-standing cold case might be solved. The challenge for investigators would be locating descendants of the victims to get a positive DNA match.

Today, at a press conference in Lexington, officials announced that DNA testing confirmed the identity of Martha Helmick, one of the occupants of the vehicle. After many years of searching, and countless hours of investigating by multiple law enforcement agencies, the 48-year disappearance of these three missing persons has been solved. The remains of Ms. Helmick will be returned to the family in Virginia for burial.

We appreciate the work of everyone involved who helped to solve this mystery and bring closure to the families of those who perished.

Press Release

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