UPDATE (May 15, 2020)
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – According to the Chatham County Police, Charles Alexander Teeple IV, 19, of Guyton turned himself in to law enforcement Friday.
He was arrested and charged with Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Elder Abuse.
“We feel some closure, I know there’s a long way to go still,” said Jessica Richard, Helmly’s daughter. “I don’t know that we will ever feel full closure considering the circumstances, but we are a step closer.”
Teeple is accused of punching 66-year-old Bruce Helmly and running off at Basil’s Bar on Dec. 30, 2019. Witnesses say the punch was unexpected and unprovoked.
Helmly later slipped into a coma and died. An autopsy on April 4 revealed Helmly died as a result of head trauma.
“I mean it just doesn’t feel real, its a nightmare we are all waiting to wake up from,” said Richard, “it’s just unbelievable.”
Helmly’s daughter, Jessica Richards, says knowing her father’s attacker is behind bars brings the family some closure, but says there is still a long road ahead.
“I don’t, I don’t know what to expect, I am just day by day, just going with the flow right now,” Richards said. “I think at one point and time I felt like I was supposed to control it all, and it’s completely out of my control, so it’s just, it’s in God’s hands.”
In a civil suit, the family alleges Basil’s Bar is also to blame for her father’s death.
Richard’s attorney said security footage from that night could prove employees knew Teeple was going to commit a violent act.
“We sent a follow up request 30 days ago to get copies of those videos that existed,” said John Manly, the family’s attorney. “We were told this week that they were written over seven days after the incident.”
Teeple is being held in the Chatham County Detention Center. If he is found guilty, Teeple could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. The D.A. said a bond hearing will be set once the case goes before a grand jury.
Teeple’s attorney tells WSAV News 3 that because Helmly refused medical treatment at the time of the incident, there is no basis to charge his client with murder. He said it is unclear what happened between when Helmly was hit and when he slipped into a coma.
Previous article (May 13, 2020)
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Officials are pursuing multiple felony charges in connection with the death of Bruce Helmly.
Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley tells WSAV News 3 the district attorney is working to secure an indictment for felony murder, aggravated assault and injury to an elderly person over 65 against Charles Alexander Jacobson Teeple IV.
Teeple was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery back in January. He allegedly punched Helmly on Dec. 30 at Basil’s Bar on Wilmington Island.
The next morning, Helmly was taken to the hospital after losing consciousness. According to family members, he died on Jan. 8.
Delays in court proceedings have left the Helmly family in a holding pattern and waiting for justice.
His daughter, Jessica Richard, said the family waited for three months for his autopsy results.
She said investigators told her it would take longer because her father had recently recovered from a heart attack and was on blood thinners at the time of his death.
“He was drinking against doctor’s orders,” said Richard. “They were trying to basically say it might have been due to the fact that he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do.”
His death was ruled a homicide on April 4. Autopsy results show the cause as a subdural hematoma resulting from a blow to the head.
Yet, more than a month later his attacker, Teeple was only facing misdemeanor battery.
“You know there is a judicial stoppage by the Chief Justice of Georgia,” said Hadley. “So, there’s a lot of unfortunate factors, that have played a part in some of the delays around this investigation specifically.”
Hadley said Teeple is under court supervision, but because formal charges have not yet been filed against him, he’s walking free.
Hadley says Teeple’s misdemeanor charge will be upgraded within the next two days. He cannot be arrested until an indictment is handed up.
“How is that safe for other people of course we want justice, but I mean in all reality I can’t understand how that is a wise decision,” said Richard.
Hadley said he understands why the family is upset.
“I completely and 100 percent understand the feelings of the family, I certainly haven’t talked to them personally,” said Hadley, “but those are things that are out of law meaning the police department’s control.”
Hadley said as soon as the charges are upgraded and a judge signs the arrest warrant will be taken in custody.