MARSHVILLE, N.C. - Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey announced the arrest of a Marshville man early Tuesday morning, in connection with two murders that occurred 24 years apart.
Eddie Clyde Helms, 61, of 6912 Fountain Hill Church Road, was taken into custody by members of the Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (SRT) around 6:30 a.m. outside his home.
That team simultaneously executed a search warrant on the home, and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation as well as sheriff’s detectives were processing the scene and collecting evidence Tuesday morning.
Helms has been charged in the August 30, 2012 murder of Union County resident Charles Ronald Godwin, and also charged in an open Anson County murder case from November 10, 1988.
The victim in the Anson County case was John Terow Griffin III, of Peachland.
Detectives, in conjunction with agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation have been working the Union County murder case since co-workers found Godwin dead at his home on Holly School Road in 2012.
The murder of Godwin came on the heels of two unrelated murder investigations -- first, a triple murder, and then a double murder -- all of which occurred in Marshville in a 2-month period.
Cathey stated that in the process of investigating their 2012 murder case, detectives developed evidence identifying Helms as a suspect in the 1988 Anson County murder case as well.
The Anson County Sheriff’s Office and SBI initially investigated the death of John Griffin. The SBI reopened the Griffin case after the new information developed in the Godwin case, linking the suspect to both crimes and a parallel investigation was conducted to the Godwin case, officials said.
As leads continued to develop and evidence came to light in both murders, law enforcement worked with the district attorneys in both counties to build their cases, which culminated in Tuesday’s arrest.
The SBI also coordinated with the Anson County Sheriff’s Office as that case developed.
Cathey complimented detectives and the agents involved for the long hours spent working leads and building the cases.
“The joint effort with SBI shows what happens when law enforcement agencies share information and make concerted efforts to cooperate with each other,” said Cathey.
The two cases, though separated by nearly 24 years, bear several striking similarities.
Both came in the wake of several other unrelated murders that year in their respective counties, and both involved the victim being shot in the back, in what the sheriff described as “a most cowardly manner.”
The victims never saw their attacker as he crept up on them in the dark, mortally wounding both with a shotgun blast.
Cathey would not disclose a motive for the two cases, but he did say that in both cases investigators believe anger and jealousy played a key role.
In the Union County case, the sheriff said Helms has also been charged for allegedly stalking Godwin and also a female acquaintance identified in the case.
The sheriff personally notified Godwin’s father of the arrest as soon as Helms was taken into custody. Officials said the two have maintained an open line of communication since the murder investigation began, and Cathey said he is thankful for the way the family was patient and allowed his detectives to work the case without undue pressure on their part.
Godwin’s mother, widow, and children were also notified by agents and deputies immediately upon the arrest.
Helms has been charged with first-degree murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling and two counts of stalking in the Union County case. An additional warrant from Anson County for the 1988 first-degree murder of Johnny Griffin was also served on Helms.
He is being held in the Union County Jail without bond pending a court date of September 22 for the Anson County charge, and September 30 for the Union County offenses.