Tech Sgt. David Helm had told friends more than a week ago that he was heading to Eastern Tennessee to visit family before going on trial at Scott Air Force Base on charges of child sexual abuse.
Instead, Helm aimed his motorcycle the exact opposite direction and headed for Nevada. There he knocked out two items on a “bucket list” that included skydiving and driving a McLaren race car in Las Vegas.
Helm was apprehended on Monday night in Reno, Nevada, on Interstate 580 by an alert Nevada State Highway trooper, who had stopped Helm after noticing that Helm’s Yamaha motorcycle had a broken tail light. A computer check showed that Helm was listed as a fugitive by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, resulting in the NCO’s arrest.
“He had mentioned just in a regular conversation with the trooper once he was taking him to jail that he was just trying to do a few things on his bucket list,” said Trooper Dave Gibson, a Nevada State Highway Patrol spokesman. “And that he had been in Las Vegas and that he done some skydiving and also got to drive a race car on a race track in Vegas somewhere. And then he was on his way to California, because he wanted to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, which is Highway 1, and also visit the Redwood Forest.”
A 36-year-old woman with a Philippine passport was a passenger on Helm’s motorcycle. She was checked for any warrants through the Nevada state dispatch center and was checked clear. A taxi cab was called and she was able to leave the scene of the arrest, according to a Nevada Highway Patrol press release.
Helm was assigned to the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, at Scott. He remains an inmate at the Washoe County Jail, awaiting transport back to Scott AFB, according to the Facebook post.
On Monday, Helm, 35, was scheduled to face a week-long court-martial at Scott on five criminal charges, including aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a child and indecent filming or photographing private areas of another person without consent.
The charges against Helm date back to 2012 and involve at least two victims. Helm’s alleged crimes took place at Scott; Gatlinburg, Tenn.; LaFollette, Tenn.; and Dayton, Ohio. One victim is described as a girl between the ages of 12 and 16, while no details have been disclosed about the second victim.
Helm, a Swansea resident, was last seen May 29, at Scott Air Force Base. Air Force investigators have labeled Helm a fugitive wanted for questioning in an ongoing investigation. His family and friends, however, believe he could be in danger and have started a private Facebook page to locate him.