Children of Thunder: The Helzer Brothers
A key element was missing from the plan: The trio needed a third person to launder the dirty money. Someone who would open a bank account, deposit and cash the extorted checks for them. Of course, they'd have to kill that person too, after they'd used them to hide the money.
Selina Bishop fit the bill perfectly. The 22-year-old was starry-eyed and looking for romance when she met Taylor Helzer at a rave in the spring of 2000.
Taylor was a cliché - tall, dark, handsome. A towering 6'5, he wore his shoulder-length brown hair pulled into a low pony tail and preferred all-black attire. He had an easy smile, but a secretive demeanor. He lied to Bishop from the moment he met her, beginning with his name. He told her to call him Jordan.
Bishop had spent two years at an art school in Pennsylvania before moving back to the Bay Area, according to the Contra Costa Times. She moved to Woodacre, one of several bucolic Marin County hamlets where there's no home mail delivery and everyone knows everyone else. She got a job waitressing down the road in San Geronimo at the Two Bird Café, a local hang-out known for its pan-fried trout and egg breakfast.
She told her co-workers all about her new boyfriend. She was completely besotted by him. But her friends and family were uneasy about the man of mystery who refused to tell Bishop his last name, home phone number or allow her to take pictures of him.
"He didnt want to meet any of us," Bishop's aunt, Olga Land, told the Contra Costa Times. "From the people I talked to who he met, he gave them the creeps."
But love blinded Bishop, and Taylor played her for a patsy.
In early July, Taylor helped Bishop move out of her mother's house into a studio apartment. Her mother, Jennifer Villarin, 45, had only met Taylor briefly and was very curious about the man her daughter had fallen so hard for -- he seemed to be avoiding meeting her family and friends. Villarin went so far as to drop in for an impromptu visit at Bishop's apartment when she knew Taylor would be there, pretending she needed to borrow a blouse from her daughter just to have the chance to talk to him.
"Well, he's cute," she told an acquaintance afterward. "He seems like a real nice kid."
Bishop told friends that Taylor was about to inherit money from his grandmother and that he needed to hide it from his ex-wife. She agreed to open four bank accounts in her name for him. It was a ruse; under California law, inherited money is not considered community property in a divorce. The real reason Taylor wanted Bishop to open the accounts was far more nefarious. But she trusted "Jordan" so much, that she gave him a key to her apartment as soon as she moved in.
In her final weeks of life, Bishop became more and more frustrated with her boyfriend's secretiveness, according to the Tri-Valley Herald. He'd be warm and affectionate to her one moment, and cold and distant the next. She wanted him to finalize his divorce from his estranged wife so they could move forward.
But Taylor had more pressing issues on his mind. He had no feelings for her. He had money to steal and people to kill. The reciprocating saw he'd use to cut up his girlfriend's body had already been purchased at the local Sears; the duffel bags that would hold her remains, at the local K-mart.