MAYSVILLE — A central Missouri man seeking a new trial in his mother's 1993 slaying testified Thursday that immediately after her disappearance he suspected his father had killed her.
Dale Helmig, who is serving a life sentence without parole, said he thought his father, Ted Helmig, was responsible because he had a history of abusing his mother, Norma Helmig.
Norma Helmig was last seen playing bingo in Jefferson City the night of July 28, 1993. Her body, weighted with a concrete block, was found in the flood-swollen Osage River on Aug. 1.
Dale Helmig was convicted in 1996. His current attorney, Sean O'Brien, claims Helmig's original lawyer was impaired by drugs during the trial and that the special prosecutor, Kenny Hulshof, withheld evidence and presented false testimony.
During the trial, Hulshof said that even before Norma Helmig's body was found, Dale Helmig had told a girlfriend, "You know, somebody got crazy drunk and killed my mother." Hulshof told the jury "that somebody" was Dale Helmig.
In testimony Thursday, Helmig said: "I was talking about my dad."
Earlier this week, Ted Helmig testified and denied killing his estranged wife. But he also said that he didn't believe his son could have killed her.
His son's testimony came at the end of the three-day hearing into Dale Helmig's claim of innocence. Prosecutors presented no evidence. Judge Warren McElwain said he would issue a decision by Oct. 1.
Much of the testimony at the hearing focused on the police investigation and how prosecutors presented it to the jury.
During Helmig's trial in 1996, Osage County Sheriff Carl Fowler told the jury, in response to a question from Hulshof, that Norma Helmig had an altercation with Dale Helmig at a Jefferson City restaurant on the Sunday before her death. Under questioning Thursday from O'Brien, Fowler said he had no written record to corroborate the statement.
"What is the source of this information?" O'Brien asked.
"I can't provide you with that," Fowler responded.
"Can you name a witness?" O'Brien asked.
"No sir, I can't," Fowler answered.
Asked whether he had discussed his testimony in advance with Hulshof, Fowler said, "Obviously I talked to the prosecutor."
Hulshof, who later won election to Congress and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2008, is now in private law practice in Kansas City. A spokeswoman for the law firm said Hulshof was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Fowler also testified that while he was aware that Norma and Ted Helmig were getting a divorce, he did not document the times Norma Helmig complained to him about her husband violating a protective order that had been issued three months before her death.
Also testifying Thursday was Fowler's former stepfather, Joseph Kuster of Jefferson City. Kuster said that during a family discussion of the O.J. Simpson case Fowler said, "I lied through my teeth to get Dale Helmig convicted."
Fowler denied it.