Lowell murder victim bailed suspected killer out of jail before, family says

LOWELL, N.C. — Police arrested 30-year-old Iva Helms Wednesday after they said she killed 62-year-old Jimmy Dellinger Saturday in his home in Lowell.

(Iva Helms)

Investigators said Helms was the one who called 911, claiming Dellinger fell on a knife inside the home on Perkins Street.

Dellinger's daughter, Angel Heath, broke in to tears when she learned Helms had been arrested.

"Nothing can heal that. A piece of my heart is gone and it won't never be back," Heath said.

Friends told Channel 9 that Helms was staying with Dellinger. They said she was struggling and he was helping her to get back on her feet.

Helms had been in and out of jail for the past two years for everything from traffic violations to assault with a deadly weapon. Dellinger's family said he bailed her out and let her come live with him at his Lowell home.

"I was like, 'Daddy please, you can't help somebody that don't want to be helped.' And he was like, 'Angel, I feel like that's why I have been put on this earth is to help people,'" Heath said.

Police said an autopsy was performed Monday on Dellinger's body, but details have not been released.

(Jimmy Dellinger)

Dellinger worked for years at a Freightliner plant but was out of work at the time of his death due to an injury.

Dellinger’s daughter said he was well known and liked in the Lowell community, as he was born and raised in the town.

Neighbor Gary Plemmons said Dellinger had a big heart and would help anyone in need.

"It hurts like heck, because I won't see him again," Plemmons said.

Plemmons said Helms gave him an explanation that he doesn't understand.

"She told me that Jimmy had fell and stabbed himself in the middle of the night, and he won't go to the hospital and he won't call 911," Plemmons said.

Plemmons said that didn't sound like the man he knew.

"Jimmy cared about life,” Plemmons said. “Jimmy cared about the people around him and he would not do something like that.”

Police said several interviews, consultations with the medical examiner and the district attorney led to the murder charge.

Helms was arrested at her home without incident.

She's being held at the Gaston County Jail with no bond.

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