CHARGED: Man accused in double murder, high-speed chase
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A Calabash man is facing murder charges after he allegedly stabbed two people to death and injured a third person, then led law enforcement on a high-speed chase that ended in a fiery crash near Shallotte early Wednesday morning.
According to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, a woman was found dead at a home on Iveystone Court and a man was taken to Brunswick Novant Hospital where he died from his injuries. A third victim, a female, was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment.
The sheriff’s office declined releasing the names of the victims pending notification of their family.
“It’s very shocking for us. I know the community is very alarmed by it. We don’t normally have things happen like this in this neighborhood or the county for that matter,” said Sheriff John Ingram who was at Iveystone Court on Wednesday morning. “This is something that has really taken us by surprise.”
Deputies were called to respond to the home on Iveystone Court around 4:40 a.m. in reference to a stabbing. During a frantic 911 call to dispatchers, a young girl said Torrence O’Neal Helms Jr., who she identified as a family friend, stabbed her and her parents.
“I woke up and he was stabbing my parents,” the caller stated. When the dispatcher asked where she was stabbed, the girl said “everywhere.”
The caller told the dispatcher that she was in her neighbor’s driveway, trying to wake her up and that Helms took off in their black Kia Optima.
On the way to the home, law enforcement spotted the Kia Optima driven by the man they believed was involved.
Deputies pursued the car, reaching speeds of approximately 105 mph, before performing a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver, which caused the vehicle to crash into a wooded area off Ocean Isle Beach Road near US 17, about five miles away from Iveystone Court.
Helms, 30 of Calabash, was apprehended after a brief foot chase and taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries. He was then booked into the Brunswick County Jail on no bond and charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, flee/elude arrest with a motor vehicle, and resisting a public officer.
“I want to assure the community that we do have the person responsible for this in custody,” Ingram added. "We are processing the scene, making sure that we have gathered all the evidence possible. It is a rather large scene so it has taken time to complete that process.”
Britton Pridgon lives across from the Iveystone Court home, which sits at the end of a cul-de-sac, and is used to ambulances showing up in his neighborhood. But he knew Wednesday morning’s incident was very different.
“We live in a retirement neighborhood, so when you see ambulance lights and stuff like that, it’s normal. So I didn’t think nothing about it. And then my children came up to me and said, ‘there’s police at the door.’ And i knew something was wrong then,” Pridgon explained.
“I’m glad they got the guy...I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight if they didn’t,” he added.
Pridgon said the news about the murders has upset the residents of the normally quiet community.
“They were very nice...very good people. They stayed to themselves like everybody else does here. So the news I’m hearing now is heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking. Especially in this community, this is very nice, this is the reason I moved here, for this community, it’s basically perfect,” he said.
According to online records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Helms was convicted in Brunswick County on Oct. 5, 2018, of four counts of felony breaking and entering, and possession of a firearm by a felon. He was sentenced to 24 months probation.
Helms was listed on the agency’s website as an absconder from probation supervision.
Prior to the 2018 convictions, Helms served six weeks in prison in 2015 after being convicted in Brunswick County on felony breaking and entering charges. He was on probation for those charges when he committed the four break-ins in 2018.
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