The cold case of 21-year-old Marsha Helgesen is close to its 44th anniversary. The case (78-72460) opened on September 9, 1978, when Helegesen’s partially nude body was found on Alkali Creek Road in Billings Heights. A homeowner from 2139 Alkali Creek Road discovered Helgesen’s body in the morning hours of September 9.
The autopsy of Marsha’s body revealed that she was stabbed several times and had noticeable lacerations on her face. An investigation of Helgesen also found that she was comfortable roaming the streets alone or with friends at night. Helgesen was last seen with a woman at the Old Sambo’s Restaurant on First Avenue North.
Something noteworthy about this case is the fact that the band, Boston, played in Billings. While there may be no connection between the concert and Helgesen’s death, it is still a big weekend event, and her body was found the day after the concert. Investigators are unsure if she was there or had friends at the concert.
Evidence collected in 1978 that had little to no value at the time is of huge value now for investigators. It is also worth noting that several other murders occurred in the 1970s; however, it is unsure if these homicides were connected. Two cold cases have been solved: the Miranda Fenner Case and the Linda and Cloffrd Berndhart case. Seven cold cases remained unsolved.
The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office established the Cold Case Unit for Yellowstone County ten years ago to review unsolved homicide cases dating back to the early 1970s. New forensic sciences and technologies help solve cases with the highest probability of being solved. Biological evidence is often still present in these cases.
The Cold case Unit comprises Yellowstone County Sheriff’s detectives, one crime analyst, forensic experts, reserve deputies, and retired investigators. Info that seemed unusable at the time of the case can prove to be the missing piece of the puzzle for these cold case units.
Advances in DNA testing and other technologies help bring justice to those who could not find it themselves.