Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Helen Brach: Gone But Not Forgotten

Earth-Shattering Revelations?

Heken Brach, victim

In early March 2005, Chicago was still shaking off the chill from the winter when things suddenly began to heat up again in the story of Helen Brach. Depending on whom you talked to, it was either been-there-done-that or earth-shattering revelations that would spring Richard Bailey from jail and finally provide an answer to what happened to the candy heiress.

On behalf of Bailey, who is now almost a decade into a 30-year term for his role in the swindle that most people believe cost Brach her life, attorney Kathleen Zellner filed a long brief with the Seventh Circuit of Appeals arguing for a new sentencing hearing for the con man.

Zellner asked the appellate court to order federal Judge Milton Shadur to resentence Bailey in light of the fact that someone else had killed Helen. Shadur's 30-year term was predicated on his finding that "on the record before this Court it is more probable than not that Bailey did commit the offenses of conspiring to murder and soliciting the murder of Helen Brach, as charged in Racketeering Act Four in Count Two of the indictment."

Attorney Kathleen Zellner
Attorney Kathleen Zellner

If the unnamed informant who had apparently confessed his involvement to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was to be believed, then Bailey actually had nothing to do with Brach's murder, and therefore did not deserve the sentence Shadur gave him.

Under the federal rules of criminal procedure, the appeals court had 30 days to decide whether to grant Bailey's motion for a new sentencing hearing.

The filing reignited interest in the dormant case, which is still unsolved.

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