Sep 30 09 6:34 PM

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Helle Lorck Nielson from Denmark is a talented woman, able to speak French and English
and understand German, Norwegian and Swedish. Her language skills are of benefit in her
chosen profession as an Airline Stewardess. After a stint with Capital Airways, she signs
on at Pan Am.

Helle Neilson loves her job and she loves life. She falls in love with someone unworthy of
her love. Her life will spiral in a direction that eventually she isn't willing to continue to live
with. Her decision to take back control of her life results in her murder.

                                           HELLE NIELSON CRAFTS

1969  24 May - Helle Neilson is waiting at the motel for a flight. Richard Crafts (31) is a
                       pilot who primarily dates airline stewardesses. He's also "engaged."

                                   Photo: Helle Nielson Crafts

1969 -1974 - Helle Nielson and Richard Crafts date and have an on and off again
                   relationship. He's dating other women. Helle's friends dislike Crafts.

1975 - Helle is pregnant by Richard Crafts.

                                        MARRIAGE, ABUSE & BETRAYAL
1976- November - Helle Nileson and Richard Crafts marry in New Hampshire.
                           Helle has their first child. Helle is deeply hurt by the way 
                           Richard treats her during her first pregnancy. She tells
                           friends she'll never forgive Richard for what he put her

                           In the next few years Helle has two more children.

                      Helle appears in public several times with bruises on her face.

                    After the children are born, Richard disappears for days at a time.
                    He never tells Helle where he goes or when he'd return.

         Throughout their marriage, Richard Crafts is unfaithful and has numerous affairs.

                    After the last child is born, Helle hires an au pair to care for the children.
                    Her name is Dawn Marie Thomas (19)

                      Photo: Dawn Thomas

                                Helle Crafts returns to her job as a stewardess.

                                           CONTROLLING BEHAVIOUR

1976 - 1982 - Richard Crafts controls both his paycheck, and Helle's. Helle's responsibility
                     is to pay for household expenses, but with his money, Craft purchases
                     whatever he wants, mainly weapons to add to his gun collection.  Richard
                     owns a veritable arsenal; several shotguns, dozens of handguns, 9mm
                     automatics, .44 caliber revolvers,  .357 magnums, high-powered rifles,
                     semiautomatic weapons, crossbows, hand grenades and thousands of
                     rounds of ammunition.  

                    Crafts purchases landscaping equipment, tractors, mowers and a $25,000
                    backhoe. He leaves rusty, unused equipment littering their lawn.

1981 - 9 January - Richard Crafts purchases a chain saw for $644.95.

                                          A WANNABE MARTINET
1982 - Richard Crafts is still working for Eastern Airlines. In addition, he signs up as an
          auxiliary police officer in Newtown. It's an unpaid position. He hangs around the  
          police station (even off duty) and at times responds to police calls without authorization.

1986 -  Richard Crafts is hired as a police officer in Southbury. The paid salary is miniscule.
           He pays for (expensive) training seminars on police procedures. Crafts went so far as
           to purchase a 1985 Ford Crown Victoria, the same type the Connecticut police use.
           He pays for (out of his own money) multiple radios, antennas, police lights and a siren
           and has them installed in the vehicle.

           As in Newtown, Richard has a reputation of being a "somewhat rigid patrolman"
           who takes his "limited responsibilities" as being more than important than they are.

                                                  DIVORCE PLANS 

1986 - Summer - Helle openly speaks with friends about divorce. Then Helle puts action to
                          words and hires first a divorce attorney, and then a private detective, Keith
                          Mayo (former Conn. policeman) to gather evidence for a divorce.

                      Photo: Keith Mayo

                        Helle discovers that Richard is having affairs, at least two, one of them is
                        with another flight attendant, Nancy Dodd, from New Jersey.

                                                                             Photo: Nancy Dodd

                                         Helle tells Richard she wants a divorce.

                                             PREPARATIONS FOR MURDER

1986 - 13 - November - Richard Crafts purchases a large capacity Westinghouse freezer at an 
                                  appliance store. He pays for, and picks it up, at the store in Danbury.
                                  Cost: $375.

            17 - November - Richard Crafts pays $900 to an equipment rental store, Darien Rentals,
                                  for machinery.

            18 - November - Today is the last time anyone saw Helle Neilson Crafts (39)... except                                       for Richard Crafts.

                                                Helle is never seen alive again.

                                      MURDER - A GRUESOME DISPOSAL & COVERUP

           19- November -  Early morning - Helle Craft is in the bedroom when she is bludgeoned
                                    at the foot of the bed.

                                    Richard Crafts carries Helle's body into the basement and places her                                      inside the new freezer. He goes upstairs and wakes the au pair.

                                    He tells Dawn Thomas (au pair) that they are all to go to his sister's  
                                    house in Westport because Newtown has suffered a power failure.

                                   Dawn Thomas asks about Helle. Crafts tells her that Helle would meet                                     them there. He drives Thomas and the children to Westport and leaves  
                                   them ith his sister. He leaves for home. Later he will tell police he didn't 
                                   go anywhere once he got home.

                                   He removes Helle's frozen body from the freezer and transports her to                                     a property in Newtown he owns. It's secluded. He uses the chainsaw                                     on her body, cutting it into smaller pieces. He wraps them in plastic 
                                   garbage bags and return them to the freezer.

                                      Richard Crafts purchases new bedding.

        20 November - In the dark, Richard Crafts take the packages containing Helle's body                                 parts to Lake Zoar. He throws them one by one into the powerful wood


                               When finished he drives the wood chipper in the u-haul to Houstatonic 
                               River and parks on the side of the River Road. He gets rid of more evidence
                               and then runs fresh wood through to clean it.

                              Unbeknownst to Richard, mail which Helle had in her pocket falls to the
                              ground. Small fragments of her bones, broken teeth and strands of her hair
                              are spit out onto the ground.

                                                     A WITNESS

       Joseph Hine is driving along the Houstatonic River road when he sees a u-haul and         
       vehicle parked alongside the road.

                                       Richard Crafts gets rid of the new freezer.

                                                   UNCONCERNED LIES                                 
          21 - November - Richard Crafts tells the au pair Dawn Thomas "Helle had to fly to
                                   Denmark because her mother was ill. She would be back November 

                                  Richard Crafts tells a neighbor "Helle made a trip to Germany and 
                                  would be home "soon."

         29 - November - Richard Crafts tells Helle's friend Leena Johanson "Helle's mother
                                  is sick and Helle flew back to be with her."

                                 Crafts tells another of Helle's friends "Helle is in the Canary Islands
                                 with her best friend, Helen Dixon."

                                 Leena Johanson isn't satisfied. She obtains the phone number for Helle's
                                 mother and phones her in Denmark. She's in good health, not in the
                                 hospital, and didn't expect to see Helle until April.

                                 Leena notifies police and tells them "In early November Helle made a
                                 disturbing statement. "If anything happens to me, don't assume it was                                   an accident."

                                                     AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATE

1986 - 1 December - Keith Mayo (Private Investigator) phones the Newtown Police Dept.
                               Helle Crafts, his client, is missing. Mayo fears she may have been
                               Helle's vehicle is found in the Pan Am Airlines parking lot at Kennedy                                 Airport. Her friends and co-workers report that Helle said she wanted 
                               to divorce Richard as soon as possible; that Helle is a devoted mother
                               to her children and would never leave them behind.

                               Investigators are also told that Richard Crafts' series of affairs have
                               gone on throughout the marriage, and were well known. He'd been
                               seeing his girlfriend in New Jersey for years.

                                                     POLICE INTERVIEW

           2 December - Richard Crafts is interviewed by officers who are aware of his reputation.
                                 Crafts tells them "on the night before Helle disappeared, she was happy 
                                 and showed no signs of being different or upset." "We slept at home 

                                 and when we awoke, the plan was for Helle "to go to my sister's house
                                 in Westport because we had no power due to the storm... I have not seen
                                 or heard from my wife since Wednesday November 19, 1986."

          11 - December- Crafts is on duty, the night shift at the Southbury Police Dept.
                                  Newtown Detectives ask for Crafts to be sent over for questioning.
                9:20 P.M. - Crafts shows up in full uniform.Lt. Michael DeJoseph and Detective 
                                 Robert Tvardzik conduct the interview.

                                Richard Crafts has an answer for every question.
                                He claims he did not know Helle had hired a P.I. who documented his
                                relationship with a woman in New Jersey. He didn't know why Helle
                                would be afraid to give him the divorce papers.

                                The reason the bedroom rug has pieces cut out is that all the rugs are being
                                removed, and that kerosene had been spilled on the bedroom rug. It was cut
                                in pieces because it would be easier to remove. He dumped it in the landfill.

                                The reason he told different persons various versions - "I didn't want to say
                                my wife was gone and I did not know where she was."

                                 The investigators thought Crafts was apathetic for a man who's wife was
                                 missing. They thought he had something to do with Helle's disappearance.

                                            A SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE
  Keith Mayo obtains the help of the local trash pickup crew and a few helpers and for a few   
  days searches through the trash at the dump. A portion of  rug is found, nearly identical to
  that of the Craft home. It has stains appearing to be blood.

                   Dr. Henry Lee at the State Police Laboratory in Meriden examines it. None of the
                   stains tests positive for blood.

                   Mayo's and Helle's friends' campaign to find out what happened to Helle Crafts 
                   results in the State Attorney's office stepping in. The investigation is turned over 
                   to State Police Investigators.

                                                  A CHANGE IN INVESTIGATORS

                  Investigators from the Western District Major Crimes Unit pull Craft's credit card                    and telephone records.

1986 - 25 December - Newtown - Richard Crafts takes the children to Florida.
                                 Investigators obtain a search warrant for the Crafts residence at 5 
                                 Newfield Lane. State Police Investigators, Dr. Henry Lee, and crime s
                                 scene technicians enter the residence.

                                They find: furniture in disarray, dirty clothes everywhere, unwashed 
                                dishs and utensils in the sink and on the countertops. The living room floor 
                                floor is bare of carpeting and mattresses lay about along with boxes of toys    
                                & other items. 

                                A freezer is located and searched. Unbeknownst to investigators, it is
                                the old one belonging to the Crafts. The new one Richard Crafts bought
                                has been removed.

                               Investigators are astonished at the arsenal Richard Crafts owns.
                              Tagged as evidence are:
                              Several Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers, a few .38 caliber revolvers,
                              Colt Python .38 caliber pistols, Ruger carbine rifles, Finnish semi-automatic
                              weapons,  12-gauge pump shotguns,  Winchester rifles, Beretta handguns
                              (with clips), .380 automatic handgun, two hand grenades, Beretta Crossbow,
                              Walther PPK handgun, two 9mm semiautomatic handguns, Heckler-Koch .45 
                              caliber pistol, over and under style Universal shotgun, numerous clips and an
                              assortment of ammunition.

                             Hand towels, washcloths, a king size mattress with bedding and other fiber
                             samples are also seized.

                                   In all, 108 pieces of evidence are removed.

                                      FORENSICS & EVIDENCE RECOVERED
 Dr. Lee performs a luminol test in various locations throughout the house, which test positive 
for the presence of blood. Some of the towels also test positive for blood at the State Laboratory.
The blood is type O-positive, the same type as Helle Crafts. So is a blood smear on the mattress.

       Joseph Hine informs police he saw a U-Haul and woodchipper along the Houstatonic River

       Investigators discover that the equipment Richard Crafts had hired on November 17th   
       was a wood chipper.

1986 - 30 December - A chainsaw and serrated cutting bar is recovered from the bottom of the
                                Housatonic River during a search. It's serial number is filed away. The
                                Meriden forensic lab restores the serial number.  Remnants of human 
                                tissue, blonde hair and a number of blue fibers are found in the teeth of 
                                the blade. The blue fibers match the rug from the Crafts home.

                              Helle Crafts had given Keith Mayo a box of Richard's personal papers.                                Inside is the receipt for the chainsaw. Mayo turns it over to police.

                              An envelope addressed to Helle is found near the river. Detectives thaw
                              snow and sift the soil. Recovered are 2,660 blonde hairs, one fingernail,
                              one toe nail, two teeth, one tooth cap and five droplets of blood.

  1987- 11 January- An arrest warrant is issued.

          9:00 p.m. - Connecticut State troopers and detectives surround Richard Craft's house
                          and telephone him, telling him to come out and surrender. The children are 
                          in the house asleep.

                          Richard Crafts "Im tired. Ill take care of it in the morning."

                          The officers insist Crafts come out immediately.

                         Richard Crafts (angry shout) "Don't call me back!"

                          After more phone calls and promises from Crafts that he'll surrender,
                         (which do not happen) Crafts finally agrees to turn himself over to them.

                                      Photo: Richard Crafts under arrest

      12:30 P.M. - Richard Crafts "I'll be out in five minutes!"
                         Shortly afterwards Richard Crafts surrenders to police.

                         Richard Crafts is arraigned at Danbury court & bail is set at $750,000.
                         He is taken to Bridgeport jail.

                                        INVESTIGATION & FORENSIC ANALYSIS

                        Investigators are still searching Lake Zoar's frigid waters.
                        Two tiny pieces of human teeth are found, one is a tiny fragment with    
                        a piece of jawbone attached.

                        Constantine P. Karazulas, Forensic Odontology, performs an analysis.
                        "The tooth was removed from the mouth with traumatic force that sheared it                          off and took the bone with it. Further, he said that if a dentist had removed 
                         the tooth, the base of the tooth would be clean and absent any jawbone residue.
                         In my  opinion, this fracture occurred by a blunt force that fractured it to the
                         center line and took the jaw with it."
                        "The second tooth specimen was even more interesting. It was only part of a tooth
                         but it still had a metal crown attached. After the search, I took several hundred 
                        X-rays of the recovered tooth from all possible angles. Using a series of five sets                          of X-rays that were taken of Helle Crafts teeth between 1980 and 1986, I
                        performed  painstaking comparison between the evidence and the images of 
                       Helles teeth. The recovered tooth at Lake Zoar perfectly matched Helles lower 
                       left bicuspid in the X- ray charts. I am medically absolutely certain of the positive

                       Dr. Lowell Levine (Forensic Scientist, New York State Police) "That tooth,                         lthe ower left second bicuspid, belonged to Helle Crafts when she was alive."

1987 - 23 June  -  The experts and investigators testify, as does Keith Mayo and friends of
                          Helle, and other witnesses. A 53 day trial, 100 witnesses & 650 pieces of

          15 July -   Juror Warren Maskell is the only juror for acquittal and refuses to deliberate
                         despite the other jurors efforts.

                                         MIS-TRIAL IS DECLARED

             CHANGE OF VENUE 

            The second trial is held in Norwalk, Connecticut.

1989 - 7 September - Experts and witnesses testify. The evidence is presented.

      The Defense suggests Helle Crafts is having an affair and has run away from her family.  

         Dr. Lee "65 pieces of bone were cut with a heavy-type cutting edge that produced a
                       crushing and cutting force. The bone, human tissue fibers and hair were all                         mixed together with wood chips and vegetative debris, but most importantly, 
                       the same machine cut it all."

          The prosecution presents to the jury that a few bone fragments, the crown of a tooth,
          part  of a thumb, a fingernail, a toenail and several thousand strands of blond hair found
         along Lake Zoar and fibers from the river, are Helle Crafts' remains. The tooth cap matches   
         Helle's dental records. They prove that Richard Crafts had disposed of Helle Crafts through
         a wood chipper by the river.

         Prosecutor David Rodgers "Crafts told me "police would find nothing because
                                                "There's no body. It's gone." 
 1989 - 20 November -  The jury is out 8 hours and reach a unanimous verdict.

           21 November - The verdict:  GUILTY of the murder of Helle Crafts.

Juror John J. Shanahan (Stamford) "Put down that she was a good mother. The character
                                                        assassination (by the defense) was uncalled for."
Jette Rompe (Helle's close friend) Thank God it's over. We all are very happy that justice was 

1990 January - Richard Crafts is sentenced to 99 years in prison.
                      He is transported to the Community Correctional Center in Bridgeport

                                        Photo: Richard Crafts

  Prosecutor David Rodgers Rodgers  "There's more that never came out at the trial, that I'm
                                                          holding back in case there's an appeal."


Helle Crafts children, Andrew, 13, Thomas, 9, and Kristina, 8, live with Crafts' sister and
brother-in-law, Karen and David Rodgers, in Westport.