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Detectives Asking for Assistance Furthering Investigation into Last October's Murder of Erik Helffenstein

3/15/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As they await scientific analysis of certain evidence, West Precinct detectives working to identify the killer of Erik Helffenstein last October in Bellevue are asking for the community’s assistance to help advance the investigation.

Helffenstein, 45, was fatally wounded October 29 while pursuing burglars who had been seen breaking into a vehicle parked outside his Meadow Ridge Circle home in the Traceside subdivision off Highway 100. When Helffenstein went outside to confront the car burglars, they fled in a black SUV. Helffenstein pursued them in his vehicle. As they traveled on Highway 100, shots were fired from the burglars’ getaway SUV at Helffenstein. He was hit and fatally wounded.

The vehicle Helffenstein was pursuing, a black Nissan Rogue, was stolen in the hours before the murder from a home in Mt. Juliet. The keys were taken during a residential burglary. The Rogue was recovered abandoned on October 31 from a parking area of Highlands at the Lake Apartments on Arbor Lake Boulevard in Hermitage. The vehicle was impounded and processed. Evidence recovered from the Rogue continues to undergo scientific testing.

About seven hours after Helffenstein was killed, credit cards belonging to the owner of the stolen Nissan Rogue were used at the Kroger store at 711 Gallatin Avenue. The investigation led to the identifications of the two men with the stolen credit cards, Cordarius Smith, 22, and Lavonta Blanch, 23. Smith is presently jailed in Nashville on unrelated aggravated assault charges. He has been indicted in Wilson County on charges of aggravated burglary and auto theft for stealing the Rogue. Blanch is jailed in Wilson County in an unrelated robbery case. West Precinct detectives have questioned both men. They, to this point, have not provided any substantive information concerning the murder case.

Anyone with information about the criminal activities of Smith and/or Blanch, particularly during the late October 2018 timeframe, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

This joint investigation involving detectives from the West Precinct and Mt. Juliet police remains active.

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Lavonta Blanch, 23

Cordarius Smith, 22