Paul Shockley
Grand Junction, CO, Colorado

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June 19, 2008
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Twice widowed, woman waits for break in husband's murder probe

GRAND JUNCTION " Miriam Helmick said her husband gave her a wad of cash early June 10 before uttering one of his familiar sayings:

"Have fun like hell."

She said they had plans to meet in Grand Junction for lunch.

Alan Clarke Helmick, 62, had plenty of favorite lines like "I wonder what the poor people are doing?" " Miriam said she heard it for the first time on one of their many Lake Powell getaways.

"And I don't mean money," Miriam said, finishing the second half of Alan's take on "poor people."

"It's about smelling the roses."

Miriam Helmick, 51, had the same sayings printed on Alan Helmick's funeral program " she buried a husband Tuesday for the second time in six years.

On Wednesday, she mulled around the garage of the 3,200-square-foot home she shared with Alan Helmick, preparing feed for the horses roaming the couple's 40-acre spread just south of Whitewater.

She returned to the 34999 Siminoe Road home less than a week after the June 10 slaying of her husband.

"I feel real close to Alan here," she said. "All of this was our project."

Alan Helmick was shot in the head inside his home. Miriam Helmick found her husband and alerted authorities to what was phoned in to 911 dispatchers as a possible robbery.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office has said next to nothing about the case in the 10 days since. Sheriff's spokeswoman Heather Benjamin last week said Helmick's murder was the lone focus the agency's complex crimes unit.

Miriam said she couldn't e-mail family photos to the Free Press Wednesday because sheriff's investigators had seized all computers in the home.

Jack Calloway Giles, 46, died of a gunshot to the head on April 15, 2002, lying in bed with his wife, Miriam Morgan Giles, according to records obtained from the Jacksonville, Fla., sheriff's office.

It was the morning after Jack Giles' birthday " Miriam told deputies she woke early for her normal exercise but instead went back to bed, according to an incident report.

The Duval County (Fla.) Medical Examiner's Office said Jack Giles then shot himself with a .38 handgun he kept in a night stand next to the couple's bed.

The case was ruled suicide and cleared by authorities a month later.

Miriam told investigators her husband was still distraught over the August 2001 accidental death of their daughter, Amy, 23.

"He sat there the day before and waited by the phone for her to call, which she'd done every year on his birthday," Miriam said Wednesday.

"He couldn't handle it."

"I thought that kind of life was over," she said of the loss of a second husband.

The couple also had a son, Jason, now 26, who lives in Florida.

Miriam moved to Grand Junction in early 2005 when she said a friend told her about a possible job as a dance instructor.

One of her new students was recently widowed.

"I usually don't associate or fraternize with students," she said of her first lessons with Alan. "I guess he sort of grew on me a bit. Such a gentleman and very sweet."

Alan and Miriam Helmick married in June 2006.

A businessman with a host of ventures between Grand Junction and Delta, Miriam says her husband was hard pressed to find time for one of his passions: golf.

Helmick's golf clubs were leaned against a garage wall on Wednesday.

"He was kind of the big decision maker ... always had more logic than I did," she said.

"I never saw a (business) situation where he couldn't pull a rabbit out of a hat."

Miriam said her husband was in Delta in late April " closing on a deal to sell his ownership share of a local title company " when somebody set fire to his Buick.

Delta and Mesa County authorities have declined comment on the incident, but suspect possible arson.

According to Miriam, she was inside a nearby building at the time her husband, in the car waiting, noticed something burning.

She said a "long thing with cotton-like stuff" had been shoved down the car's gas tank and was smoldering, partially melting the gas cap.

"It was a full tank of gas in that car," she said.

Alan Helmick ran inside a local business, dousing the car with cups of water.

The incident's relationship " if any " to Helmick's murder is unknown.

"It very well could be related, I don't know," she said. "I know he thought it was random."

Who may have wanted to harm Alan Helmick?

"Anything like that is part of their investigation," she said, declining to talk about possible motives.

She also knows she's likely considered a suspect.

"I'm sure they probably do, but that's just their job," she said. "When they get to a point when they figure out what they're going to do, they'll let me know."

Miriam said she left 34999 Siminoe Road around 8:15 to 8:30 a.m. on June 10, cash in hand from her husband for a shopping trip. Alan Helmick went to take a shower, she said.

"Everything was fine," she said.

He was to meet her in Grand Junction for lunch at what they called the "pigsty" " a North Avenue Chinese restaurant.

She said she called him several times when he didn't show.

"He didn't call back, and I waited (at the restaurant) then I came home," she said. "That's when I found him and it all went downhill from there."

Sheriff's deputies around noon were called on a reported possible robbery at the residence " radio dispatch traffic described someone attempting to resuscitate Alan Helmick.

Despite the robbery reports, Miriam Helmick declined to talk about the house's condition.

"My first concern was him," she said.

Reach Paul Shockley at

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