Family and friends from the Finnish community are still asking questions on the second anniversary of the death of Jukka Hellsten. His body was found in Cuddy Creek, not far from the Monterey Trail bridge early in November, 2009.
By Patric Hedlund
This Halloween, two little boys in Los Angeles, like those all over the country, leered and grinned at their costumes in the mirror as they prepared to go out trick-or-treating. One was a caveman, the other was a robot. But this was also a day of sadness for these youngsters.
It was at about this time two years ago, shortly after Halloween 2009, that Axl, 7 and Evan, 5 learned that they would not see their devoted Uncle Jukka again.
Jukka Hellsten is not forgotten by his family, his friends, or the Finnish community of Los Angeles, one of his sisters said in an interview this week.
She was told that Hellsten’s wallet had been found in a foreclosed house in Frazier Park last month, by “a cleaning lady.”
The Mountain Enterprise confirmed with Kern County Sheriff’s Sergeant Mark Brown that the rumor is true. Hellsten’s wallet was found in the former home of Alyce Coleman, with whom he’d lived during the year before his disappearance from that same house on San Joaquin Trail in Frazier Park on October 24, 2009.
No one from the Kern County Sheriff’s office has called the family to notify them that their loved one’s wallet has been found, sister Mari Hellsten said on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Nor has the Kern County District Attorney’s Office responded to two certified letters from Jukka’s parents and sister in Europe requesting copies of the autopsy photographs.
The family is still troubled because they believe the brain hemorrhage which was stated as being the cause of death has not been adequately explained by the theory that Jukka fell and hit his head on a rock in the creek. An independent forensic pathologist, working with an investigator in contact with The Mountain Enterprise, said she’d been informed that during the autopsy brain sections had not been photographed, making an independent second opinion difficult to obtain.
On the day after Halloween this year, November 1, Jukka Hellsten’s family was shocked to see a story in Finn Times, a local magazine for the Finnish- American community, with the large headline: “Who Killed Jukka?”
The story tells about the Finnish business administration graduate’s mysterious disappearance “in the small town of Frazier Park where everyone knew who he was.” The writer expresses skepticism that Hellsten could have gone unseen by anyone for over a week.
In fact, it was two nights after Halloween in 2009 when a 911 call was placed to Kern County’s dispatch system. The callers said they heard the sound of a person screaming as if in pain in the area of Cuddy Creek, between their home on Decator Trail and Frazier Mountain Park Road. It was about 8:30 p.m.
Two Kern County Sheriff’s deputies responded. The publisher of The Mountain Enterprise also heard the call. He went out to Monterey Trail bridge to see a deputy parked beside the creek bed, watching and listening.
The next morning, Jukka’s body was discovered in the creek by two teenage boys, near the Monterey Trail bridge, just 150 feet from the Kern County Sheriff’s substation and 50 feet from where the deputy was parked the previous evening.
Homicide Detective Sgt. Craig Rennie said that Hellsten’s body had been there about “a day or two.”
The family continues to seek answers about where Jukka may have been between the time he went missing and the discovery of his body. Anyone with additional information is asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, which will put them in touch with family members.
Note to our readers: Two corrections have been made in this article. One of the children’s names was corrected to the Finnish spelling, and the email address to reach the family was updated.
This is part of the November 11, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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