‘The Day Helen Disappeared’ – FOX8 original series investigates North Carolina’s oldest missing person case

GREENSBORO, N.C. — She is now simply case 22752.

An old, brown folder, with some typed pages and the description of how Helen Dalton simply disappeared.

Helen was 52 years old on April 3 of 1963. It was a different time in America – much more innocent. John F. Kennedy was still our president, few Americans knew where Vietnam was and it was sunny and warm when Helen and her 14-year-old daughter, Bonnie, got in the car, that day.

“She took her daughter to Grimsley High School that morning,” recounts retired Greensboro Police Department Capt. Jim Scifries. “And when the daughter got out of the car, the mother said, ‘Now, don’t forget you have a dental appointment today and I’ll be back to pick you up.’”

Except, she didn’t.

Helen didn’t return to the high school, didn’t return home – she hasn’t been seen nor heard from since. Fifty-six years, the oldest missing persons case in North Carolina.

“The investigators, back then, always suspected the husband of foul play or having something to do with her disappearance. But then, he passed away many years ago and no remains were ever found,” said Caroline Holliday, the GPD detective who is just the latest to be assigned to the case.

There isn’t much to go on with the case.

“We know that Ms. Dalton’s sister became suspicious back in 1963,” Holliday said. “She wasn’t hearing from her sister in the normal way – phone calls – she was receiving letters that were signed by typewriter, not by hand-written signature. She came down to Greensboro to inquire, she didn’t really get any straight answers from Mr. Dalton and so she contacted the police.”

In fact, Don Dalton’s stories about what happened to Helen kept changing.

The case was cold for years until some tips suggested the police dig on the property the Dalton’s once lived on in Greensboro. Georgie Bogdan was an anthropologist at UNC Greensboro at the time and was part of the team that did the dig, but it had to be called off before they got to the depths they needed to go to. And Bogdan isn’t convinced that Helen’s remains aren’t still on that property somewhere.

“I would say more than likely, unless the water table had gotten to it, that there would be skeletal remains,” Bogdan said.

So many questions: What happened to Helen? Was her husband really involved? Why would she leave her children? What evidence is there that she really left?

All questions that seem unanswerable — until you talk to cold case specialist Mike Wilson, who when you suggest this case can’t be solved, replies, “To that I would say, never say never.”

Get the answers to all of those questions – and how FOX8 first got onto this story – in this series of Buckley Reports, “The Day Helen Disappeared.”

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Podcast 

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