97th District Attorney Casey Polhemus reported that on May 2, 2020, Saconn Renea Ayala, Charles Ray Hunter, and Lee Alfredo Villalpando were each charged with murder for their role in the death of John Lewis Helms, age 24.
On April 19, 2020, around 9:00 p.m., Helms’ body was discovered on Half House Road in Archer County, Texas. The extensive investigation revealed that Helms suffered multiple blunt force injuries to the head and body, and multiple stab wounds to the back.
Each of the suspects were in custody on other charges when the murder charge was filed by the 97th District Attorney’s Office early Saturday morning, according to Polhemus. Ayala was arrested on April 26, 2020 for drug and theft charges in Wichita County; Hunter was arrested on April 27, 2020 for drug charges in Wichita County; and Villalpando was arrested in Young County on May 2, 2020 for felony assault charges out of Tarrant County.
DA Polhemus commented, “I am very proud of the teamwork that led to the arrests in this case. It was a multi-jurisdictional effort that included the 97th District Attorney’s Office Investigators, the Texas Rangers, the Wichita Falls Police Department, and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office Investigators. They all worked tirelessly to find Helms’ killers and bring them to justice.”
Archer County Sheriff’s Office conducted the initial investigation. According to the Probable Cause Affidavit, Archer County Sheriff’s Office revealed video surveillance from a business located on Half House Rd. which was instrumental in identifying the blue SUV driven at the time of the homicide.
The Probable Cause affidavit says that an individual attested that he was at an apartment when an argument took place between the victim Helms and another white male regarding Helms stealing a hat and shoes from the man’s girlfriend. The affidavit also states that one of the suspects, Villalpando, attests that he was driving the SUV and was given directions to drive to the end of a specific dirt road. Helms was forcibly removed from the vehicle and assaulted by three men and left on the road. The Medical examiner with the Southwestern Institute for Forensic Sciences attested that the autopsy on Helms noted blunt force injuries to his head and body and 5 sharp force injuries to his back which led to his death, listing the manner of death as homicide.
Villalpando was transported to the Archer County Jail from Young County Jail last Monday. Sheriff Beesinger was not sure when the other two suspects would be transported. Bond was set at $500,000 on the murder charge.