Helle Crafts was a Danish air stewardess that had married Richard Crafts in 1979 before settling in Newtown, Connecticut. The couple had three children and Richard worked as a pilot. The relationship was rocky from the beginning with Richard cheating on Helle even before they were married.
On the 19th of November, 1986, Helle Crafts landed in New York from Germany. She and two other stewardesses drove to Newtown and pulled up outside Helle’s home. “Richard’s home,” she sighed. It was the last time anybody saw her alive. As it turned out, Helle had recently discovered that her husband had once again been having a plethora of affairs behind her back. She filed for divorce shortly before her disappearance and expressed fear for her life to her friends. One friend said she told them “that if anything happened to her, we should not believe that it was an accident.”
Following her disappearance, Richard gave varying reports as to where Helle was. He originally said that she was in Denmark visiting her sick mother. This lie soon crumbled when her mother said no such arrangement had been made and that she wasn’t sick. He then told concerned friends that she was in Florida or the Canary Islands visiting with a friend. Just days after her disappearance, Richard dismantled and redecorated their bedroom and purchased a new freezer; an odd thing to do when your wife is missing. Helle’s divorce lawyer soon got involved after finding out that Richard hadn’t even reported his wife missing.
Investigators considered something sinister had happened and zoned in on Richard who had been acting very peculiarly. The following month, they discovered that he had rented a 2700-pound wood chipper when Helle disappeared. A highway worker then came forward to relay that he had seen Richard parked at the side of River Road with the wood chipper in tow at around 3AM a day or two after Helle disappeared. Police rushed to the scene where they uncovered clumps of wood chips under layers of dead leaves. Among the wood chips, they found something much more sinister: a human thumb, a fingertip with the nail attached, strands of bleached hair, a big toe, bone fragments, lacy material from underwear, a mailing label with Helle Crafts name on it and a crowned tooth with a piece of jawbone attached.
The evidence was damning. In addition, they uncovered a submerged chainsaw covered in Helle’s DNA and a bloodstained carpet from inside the home. Richard was found guilty on the 21st of November, 1989, and sentenced to 50 years in prison. It was the first case in which somebody was convicted of murder with no body in the state of Connecticut. The 1996 movie, Fargo, was based on the case.