Homicide investigators searching for evidence in the creek-side brush near the Monterey bridge and Arroyo Trail where Hellsten’s body was found. [Mountain Enterprise photo] Inset: Jukka Hellsten had been missing since October 24.
NEWS UPDATE: (Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009)—According to the Kern County Coroner’s office, there were no guhshot wounds found on the body of Jukka Hellsten during the autopsy performed Wednesday morning. This dispells rumors of a gunshot heard by a local resident having anything to do with Hellsten’s death. There was trauma to the side of his head, according to Deputy Coroner Regina Mancera, although she said it is still not known whether the trauma indicates homicide or an accident.
By Gary Meyer
The body of a man who had been reported missing since October 24 was found in Cuddy Creek Tuesday morning, Nov. 3 by two young men in Frazier Park.
Jukka Hellsten’s sister, Mari Hellsten of Marina del Rey, said she was told her brother walked out of his San Joaquin Trail residence between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 with six dollars and a cell phone in his pocket.
She said Alyce Coleman, his girlfriend, filed a missing person report on Monday, Oct. 26.
Frazier Park residents Mike Virgini, 19 and Grant Richardson, 16 were walking from a friend’s house Tuesday morning, using a path they often took along the north bank of Cuddy Creek. Virgini ran across the street to Don’s Liquor Mart to buy cigarettes while Richardson stayed near the creek behind the Traffic Zone clothing store.
Virgini told The Mountain Enterprise on Wednesday, Nov. 4 what happened next.
While looking down into the creek area, “Grant saw someone’s leg down in the bushes. He shouted down to him but the guy wasn’t responding,” Virgini said.
“As I was coming back across the street from Don’s, Grant walked toward me. I could tell he had found something. He said ‘Dude, I think I found a dead guy in the creek,’” Virgini said.
“‘No way!’ I told him.”
“Really,” Richardson told his friend, “there’s a dead guy in the creek.”
The two went into the sheriff’s station where Virgini says they were met with skepticism before a deputy accompanied them out to the spot, just one hundred yards away.
An hour later, Bakersfield homicide detectives began pouring into Frazier Park, while Virgini and Richardson sat waiting to be interviewed in the sheriff’s substation.
Rumors were circulating about a fight involving Hellsten, 42 just before he disappeared. Bonnie McCloskey called the newspaper and said she had heard a gunshot on Friday, Oct. 30 about 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., near her house on Arroyo Trail. “It shook my house and scared my dog,” McCloskey said. Both rumors are unconfirmed.
Whether anyone had seen Hellsten between the time he disappeared and when his body was found is the subject of conflicting reports being received by sheriff’s investigators.
On Monday, Nov. 2 Mari Hellsten told The Mountain Enterprise that her brother came to the United States in 1989 from Finland and had been living in Frazier Park for about a year. He bought a lot and had planned to build a house, but had found little work as an electrician this year and was having financial problems. Recently, she said, he had been considering returning to Finland.
She said he was in good health, aside from drinking, and that she had been in almost daily contact with her brother before he disappeared.
“This is killing our family in Finland…they feel so helpless,” Mari Hellsten said on the day before he was found.
Kern County Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Sgt. Craig Rennie told reporters at the scene he is not sure whether the case is one of homicide or accidental death.
“There appears to be some type of trauma but we do not know the cause,” Rennie said. He said it could be from a fall or could be from something else. Sgt. Rennie would not say anything about the position of the body or other specifics about the crime scene. He said the body had been there about, “a day or two,” and that someone has reported seeing Hellsten within the last two or three days.
The Kern County Coroner’s office, which conducted an autopsy on Wednesday, said no information will be available regarding cause of death until the results of toxicology tests are back in six to eight weeks.
Homicide detective did not return calls on Wednesday as we go to press.
Look for updates at www.MountainEnterprise.com.
This is part of the November 06, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.