Three men charged with Archer Co. murder, family confirms link to recent homicide

Local News

UPDATE: May 4, 2020, 1:55 p.m.

According to arrest affidavits, the motive for the beating and stabbing was that Helms disrespected one of the suspects by stealing his girlfriend’s shoes and hat.

Statements taken from witnesses and suspects alleged the three suspects and a fourth man went in the car to the secluded road and dragged Helms out to beat and stab him, then left his body.

The fourth man told investigators he was told to keep quiet or the same thing would happen to him.
Investigators said surveillance video recorded the car turning onto the dirt road, then coming back out to the highway four minutes later.

All three suspects have previous arrest and prison records.

Ayala has more than 30 arrests in Wichita County including an armed robbery of a convenience store on 5th St. in 2006 in which police said he left sawed-off shotgun behind when he fled.

He was arrested in Wichita Falls April 26 on charges of vehicle theft, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence. A Texas Ranger and District Attorney investigator said he drove by then left a house on Roberts where they were serving a narcotics warrant and he was stopped and said meth was tossed out of a truck, which they said showed up as stolen.

Records show he’s served at least 4 prison terms and was paroled in 2018.

Hunter was arrested April 27 when the SWAT team served a drug search warrant on an apartment on Professional Drive and officers said they found two safes containing multiple drugs.

He has previous drug convictions in other counties and has served multiple prison terms.

Villalpando was initially arrested in Young County Saturday for a Tarrant County assault charge and also charged with murder.

He has dozens of prior arrests in Young County since 2006 and was paroled from prison in 2010.

Besides the 97th DA’s office, the Texas Rangers, Wichita Falls Police and Wichita County D.A.’s office assisted in the investigation.

UPDATE: May 4, 2020, 12:03 p.m.

After murder charges were filed Saturday in the death of a man whose body was found on a road in Archer County April 19, the district attorney has released additional details on how he died.

The body of 24-year-old John Lewis Helms was discovered on Half House Road off HWY 281.

Three men are now charged in his murder: Charles Ray Hunter, 39, 45-year-old Saconn Ayala, 45, and Lee Alfredo Villalpando, 34, for Helms’ murder.

Hunter and Ayala are in the Wichita County Jail and Villalpando is in the Young County Jail.

97th District Attorney Casey Polhemus said all three were in custody on other charges when they filed the murder charges. Each of their bonds total more than a half-million dollars.

Polhemus said Helms suffered multiple blunt force injuries to the head and body, and multiple stab wounds in the back.

All three suspects have previous arrest and prison records.

Ayala has more than 30 arrests in Wichita County including an armed robbery of a convenience store on 5th St. in 2006 in which police said he left a sawed-off shotgun behind when he fled.

ARCHER COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Texas Rangers have informed the family of an Archer County murder victim about arrests linked to the case.

The body of John Lewis Helms, 24, was discovered in Archer County on April 19 on Half House Road off Highway 281. Helms, described as a free spirit by his family, was laid to rest on April 23.

The Helms family reached out to our newsroom Sunday morning after they received a call from Texas Rangers about the arrests of Charles Ray Hunter, Saconn Ayala, and Lee Alfredo Villalpando for Helms’s murder. Hunter and Ayala are listed in the Wichita County Jail with murder charges out of Archer County. Villalpando was arrested in Young County.

Officials with the Archer County Sheriff’s Office have not returned calls and emails to provide additional information about these arrests.

Villalpando, 34, was arrested Saturday and charged with murder and assault family violence. His bond is set at more than half a million dollars.

Ayala is charged theft, tamper/fabricate physical evidence with intent to impair and manufacture, delivery, or possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested by the Wichita Falls Police Department and the Wichita County District Attorney Drug Task Force on April 26. His bond is set at $560,000.

Hunter, 39, was arrested April 27 after a SWAT team served a warrant at an apartment at 5268 Professional Drive. Officers said they found Hunter in the apartment and found two safes that contained scales, baggies, meth, and also ecstasy pills that resembled the Transformer character “Optimus Prime.”

Hunter was released from Wichita County Jail on Feb. 24 when his other arrest in June for manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance was dismissed. In that arrest, he and another man and a woman were stopped in Wichita Falls and deputies said they found a scale, heroin and meth inside the vehicle Hunter was driving. According to authorities, Hunter had just been released on parole the day before on drug convictions.

Hunters’s bond is set at $530,000.

Family members have created a GoFundMe for Helms’s funeral, so click here for more information.

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