Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Notorious 'Hyde Park rapist' arrested on probation violation

The man known as the "Hyde Park rapist" has been arrested after Brevard County deputies said they found him with a 17-year-old girl his probation officer had said to leave alone.

Bobby Joe Helms, 52, was being held at the Brevard County jail without bail Sunday on a charge of violating his probation stemming from his convictions in a series of rapes on both sides of Tampa Bay.

But Helms' attorney contended Sunday night that arrest was improper. She said Helms' probation does not prohibit him from having unsupervised contact with minors.

"That's not a term and condition of his probation," said Tampa lawyer Jeanine Cohen, who represents Helms. "Your probation officer cannot add terms and conditions of your probation later."

Still, that might not be Helms' only problem.

At the time of his arrest on Friday, Helms was carrying more than 100 tablets of a prescription painkiller. He faces no charges related to the drug, which he told deputies was for his own use, but a sheriff's official said deputies are investigating how he got the pills and what he used them for.

"They believed it was more than you would have on yourself for personal use," said Brevard sheriff's Lt. Tod Goodyear.

Sheriff's officials began investigating Helms after hearing from police in the small town of Indian Harbour Beach that he had been hanging around with the 17-year-old girl, Goodyear said.

As a result, Helms' probation officer called him in for a meeting and told him, according to Goodyear, " 'Do not see this girl. Do not be around her.' "

Sheriff's officials also heard that several teenagers were frequenting Helms' efficiency apartment in Melbourne or accepting rides from him, Goodyear said.

Helms had been convicted of the 1985 rape of a 15-year-old Clearwater girl, so the Brevard Sheriff's Office began watching him with deputies assigned to a task force that targets gangs and violent crime.

"We felt from what we were hearing (that) we were about to have a major problem," said Goodyear, who supervises the agency's sexual offender registration and tracking unit.

On Friday night, deputies spotted Helms with the teenager in his car, pulled him over and arrested him on a charge of violating his probation, Goodyear said. The girl told investigators there was no sexual relationship between the two.

Instead, she told authorities she saw Helms, who was working at a Denny's restaurant, more as a mentor or counselor.

"What he could do counseling-wise for her, I have no clue," Goodyear said.

It is stupid for Helms to associate with females in their teens, whether 17 or 19, Cohen said. But she said "it's not a crime," it is not part of his probation and a probation officer cannot add it as a condition now.

Goodyear said it was his understanding that the probation officer had given Helms a lawful order to stay away from the girl, and a prosecutor said that if Helms did not comply with that order, then that would constitute a violation of his probation.

Until this incident, Helms had kept a job, was passing his polygraph tests and was participating in sex offender treatment as required, Cohen said.

"He's doing really well," she said. "He's been doing everything he needs to do."

Helms, who worked as a cook in a Clearwater restaurant, committed a series of rapes and burglaries in the Hyde Park area of Tampa in the mid 1980s.

In 1986, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a single sexual battery charge after he confessed to other attacks in exchange for the sentence. Citing a lack of evidence, prosecutors defended the deal. Coupled with a conviction for raping the 15-year-old, he served 14 years in prison.

Prior to moving to Melbourne last year, Helms had been incarcerated almost continuously since 1986.

He was released in 2002 but returned to Arcadia within a year after failing three polygraph tests.

Then, in 2007, a judge approved his monitored release after two doctors said Helms no longer posed a threat to the community.

But he was back in custody within seven hours.

The plan had been for Helms to move to a St. Petersburg mobile home park with other sex offenders and felons. But the park's management evicted him after four TV news trucks showed up for his arrival.

Before his move to Brevard County last year, Helms said he worked hard in treatment and had no intention of committing new crimes. He choose Melbourne to be near his siblings and away from his victims.

"It will put some distance between me and the people that I hurt," he said last year.

In all, it took seven attempts to find a community where Helms could find a place to live. Cohen has said some cities that had been considered for a placement had ordinances banning sex offenders.

Now she questions whether influential residents pressured authorities to find a reason to violate Helms' probation because of the notoriety of his case.

"Apparently, the community is really nice and well-off," she said, "so they don't want people like Mr. Helms there."

Notorious 'Hyde Park rapist' arrested on probation violation 06/28/09 [Last modified: Sunday, June 28, 2009 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gov. Rick Scott could soon be the all-time king of line-item veto


    2016: $256,144,027

    2015: $461,387,164

    2014: $68,850,121

    2013: $367,950,394

    2012: $142,752,177

    2011: $615,347,550

    Only once has Scott used the line-item veto sparingly. That was in 2014, the year he ran for re-election, when he removed a paltry $69 million from the budget.

    Gov. Rick Scott waves a veto pen at The Villages in 2011.
  2. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon


    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  3. Resignation of communications director Dubke could signal more changes within White House staff


    WASHINGTON — Mike Dubke has resigned as White House communications director, a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, in the first of what could be a series of changes to President Trump's senior staff amid the growing Russia scandal.

    President Donald Trump speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 29, 2017, during a Memorial Day ceremony. [Associated Press]
  4. Trump pays somber tribute to fallen troops on Memorial Day


    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed the nation's "boundless" gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice paid by Americans defending the United States, dedicating his first Memorial Day address as commander in chief to a top Cabinet secretary and two other families who lost loved ones.

    Brittany Jacobs, left, watches as her 6-year-old son Christian Jacobs meets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Arlington, Va. Jacobs father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, was killed in 2011. [Associated Press]
  5. Florida education news: Budgets, discipline, charter schools and more


    BUDGETING: Florida school district officials keep a close eye on their spending plans as they await word on the Legislature's budget. Gov. Rick Scott