Deputy shooting suspect goes 'missing' for 3 hours Monday morning

Deputy shooting suspect goes 'missing' for 3 hours Monday morning

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's the case of the missing inmate.

Not just any inmate. A Pooler man shot a Chatham County Sheriff's deputy in February. He was due in court for a bond hearing Monday morning, but there was one problem: no inmate.

At 9 a.m., 26-year-old Vincent Helmly Jr. was supposed to have a bond hearing hear at the Chatham County Courthouse. We spoke to his lawyer, who said Helmly didn't show up for that bond hearing; he was at Georgia Regional. His lawyers say he wasn't at Georgia Regional either.

"These are pretty serious charges, so something went wrong somewhere, and I don't know what happened or who released him; who thought he didn't have to be back in Chatham County custody," said James Byrne, Helmly's attorney.

Byrne was concerned. His client is accused of shooting Cpl. Lester Ellerbe from Chatham County Sheriff's Office, in the arm, while serving him a stalking warrant. This lead to a three-hour standoff between Helmly and police in February.

Helmly was facing 10 counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer, along with weapons and other charges, after allegedly firing a high-powered rifle at Ellerbe and other officers.

"If he is out there, I urge him to turn himself into the sheriff's department," Byrne said.

The sheriff's deputies who went to pick him up at Georgia Regional, the DA's Office, Judge James Bass's office at Superior one knew where Helmly was for three hours Monday morning.

When we called, Georgia Regional wouldn't confirm he was released, citing HIPPA Laws. However, by noon, Helmly was located. The DA's Office tracked him down to where he had been moved: a facility in Effingham County.

"It may be a miscommunication, but it's a pretty big one," said Byrne.

"The inmate was transported from Georgia Regional to the CCDC to be psychologically evaluated, and hours later, transported to Effingham County," said Maj. Tommy Tillman, CCSO.

Speaking to Judge Bass's office, they said this type of situation is one they have never seen before, and it is not normal.

The bond hearing will be rescheduled once all parties reconvene.

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