Kidnapped couple in North Country safe; FBI points to drug-related activity

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Residents of Moira, New York, are still grappling with the alleged kidnapping of a local couple who were found safe earlier this week.

The FBI says it’s tracking leads that suggest drug-related activity in the case involving James and Sandra Helm, both in their 70’s.

Town Supervisor Justus Martin says the couple have always been kind members of the community.

“They have caring hearts. Recently, my son had a project he was working on and Jim…he volunteered to come and help my son with it…they really have a heart for the community,” said Martin.

Mr. Helm’s colleagues at the Moira Highway Department say they noticed something strange around 6 am Monday when he didn’t show up for work.

They tried calling him but didn’t have much luck.

“Obviously, he was not available or wasn’t reachable, which was unusual for Jim. He was always very available and committed to what he’s doing,” said Martin.

Sargent Audriey-Anne Bilodeau with Quebec Provincial Police, Surete du Quebec, says the two were found across the border in Magog, Quebec, about three hours from their home.

“They were found safe and sound by our officer. She would say at approxiamately 5 pm in the Magog area, which is the province of Quebec,” said Bilodeau.

Bilodeau told me five people were arrested and one has since been released. Four were charged with kidnapping, forcible confinement, extortion, and conspiracy.

When asked about the motive or why this Moira couple may have been targetted, Bilodeau said she couldn’t share those details.

“The investigators are keeping those kinds of details to show in front of the court house when the suspects are going to appear. When you interrogate suspects, they are the only one’s who know the motive…so normally we don’t say it like this…it’s really part of the investigation,” said Bilodeau.

The US Customs and Border Protection in St. Albans could not comment as the investigation is still ongoing.

Martin says the community is left with questions but their hearts go out to the couple.

“How could this happen? Why did it happen? There are people concerned about their own safety but, I mean, the primary concern was for Jim and Sandra…that was clearly the concern,” said Martin.

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