Police arrest pair in connection with October’s Highway 100 killing


Police arrest pair in connection with October’s Highway 100 killing

ABOVE: A file photo from night of shooting.

 

By VINCE TROIA

Metro Police on Friday arrested two men in connection with the October 2018 killing of a Bellevue man who pursued suspected burglars in his Traceside neighborhood.

However, the department still is asking the public for help with its investigation.

Erik Helffenstein, 45, was fatally wounded Oct. 29 after using his own vehicle to chase down men who had been seen breaking into a car parked outside his home. Helffenstein initially confronted the suspects who then fled in a black SUV, possibly a Nissan Rogue. As the chase continued along Highway 100 near Ensworth High School, bullets fired from the SUV struck Helffenstein, killing him.

Officers have arrested Cordarius Smith, 22, and Lavonta Blanch, 23, in connection with the case. Both men were in custody — Smith in Nashville on aggravated assault charges, and Blanch in Wilson County in connection with a robbery case.

The Rogue plays a key role in the investigation, police said. Keys to the vehicle were stolen during a residential burglary in Mt. Juliet just hours before the shooting of Helffenstein. The Rogue was recovered abandoned on Oct. 31 from an apartment complex in Hermitage and was impounded and processed. Investigators are examining the vehicle for evidence that may link it to the Bellevue shooting.

Days later, according to police, Smith and Blanch used credit cards apparently stolen in the Mt. Juliet burglary at a Gallatin Pike grocery store. It was the credit card purchase that led police to the suspects.

Detectives have questioned both men, but the pair has not provided any substantive information concerning the Helffenstein murder.

Anyone with information about any criminal activities of Smith and/or Blanch, particularly during the last days of October 2018, is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

A GoFundMe account for Helffenstein’s family was set up after his death. People wishing to donate or learn more about Erik can visit https://bit.ly/2XZAAWA

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