Helen Wilson Murder: How Did Bruce Allen Smith Die? – On the night of February 5, 1985, Helen Wilson, 68, was sexually attacked and killed in the Beatrice, Nebraska, apartment where she lived alone. Relatives paid her a visit on February 5 and dropped her off at her apartment in the evening. Her sister discovered her body in the apartment the next morning at 9:30 a.m. Wilson had been raped, stabbed, and strangled, among other things. Inside the apartment, a substantial sum of money was discovered.
‘The Beatrice Six,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, explores what transpired after she died and how six innocent individuals were wrongfully convicted of her murder. It took more than two decades for the true killer to be discovered. So, are you curious as to what transpired and how the killer was apprehended? We’ve got your back.
Who Was Helen Wilson and How Did She Die?
Helen was a widow living in an apartment in the little Nebraska town of Beatrice. Her husband died young, and she raised her three children in the same community. Helen adored her seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and she relished the opportunity to create new memories with them. Her family visited her frequently when she was living alone.
Helen had been feeling ill on February 5, 1985, so her son Darrell and his wife went to check on her that night. They left and agreed to contact her at midnight to remind her that she needed to take her prescription. When they did call, though, no one answered.
Helen’s body was discovered the next morning by her sister, who resided in the same apartment complex. Around 9:30 a.m., she and her husband dialed 911. Helen was sleeping on her back, her nightgown drawn up over her shoulders. A washcloth was covering her face, and underneath it, the cops spotted a scarf securely wrapped around her face.
The situation was a shambles. Blood-stained bedding and traces of a struggle could be found. She died of suffocation after contracting pneumonia, according to the autopsy. She, too, had been sexually abused.
Who Killed Helen Wilson and Why?
The perpetrator had broken into the house, but robbery was ruled out as a motive because nothing of value had been taken. Blood and sperm samples were taken from the site, but testing was still limited since it was the 1980s. Furthermore, three older women were subjected to house invasions just two years before the occurrence. They fought off their assailant, and no physical evidence was found at the site. The police, on the other hand, suspected them of being involved in Helen’s murder.
Bruce Allen Smith was immediately regarded as a suspect. Bruce was seen drinking at a bar on the night of February 5 before departing for another party, according to a witness. He was booted out after threatening to rape one of the women there. After that, he was dropped off near Helen’s flat. A pocketbook was discovered near the building at the time, thought to have been stolen by Bruce from a woman at the party. The next day, another witness claimed to have seen blood on Bruce.
Bruce was apprehended and interrogated in Oklahoma. He denied any involvement in the crime, but he did produce DNA and blood samples. The blood type of the samples taken on the scene was rare and particular. Bruce was fired after the lab results revealed that he was not a match.
As the inquiry progressed, the authorities picked up six prospective suspects – Joseph White, Thomas Winslow, Ada Taylor, Debra Shelden, James Dean, and Kathy Gonzalez, who were all suspected of being engaged in the crime. The “Beatrice Six” was dubbed as a group.
The authorities got this information from a 17-year-old informant who said Ada confessed to her about the incident. They were interrogated one by one, and it’s thought that these six individuals were threatened with the death penalty and shown evidence from the crime site. Even though none of them remembered being at the apartment that night, a psychologist suggested that they may have suppressed their recollections. They were all found guilty and sentenced to prison for their roles in the crime.
Helen’s murder was investigated by a cold case squad some 23 years later, and the evidence was submitted for DNA testing. The outcomes were startling. The blood recovered in Helen’s bedroom, the blood on a pair of her underwear, and the semen found in her body all matched Bruce Allen Smith’s DNA. Not only that but the “Beatrice Six” were also exonerated after spending many years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
What Caused Bruce Allen Smith’s Death?
The original tests done on Bruce’s blood turned out to be incorrect. The Oklahoma analyst who conducted the tests was later charged with fabricating evidence. Bruce has a criminal record as well. In 1981, he was arrested for rape, although there is no record of his conviction. Between 1987 to 1989, he was convicted of burglary and served time in Oklahoma. Bruce, sadly, will never face justice for his crimes since he died of AIDS in Oklahoma in September 1992.