Helen J. Kelly (courtesy Sioux City Police Dept.)
Helen Jean (Braunger) Kelly
Helen J. Kelly
3646 Court St.
Sioux City, IA
Missing Since: May 18, 2005
Eighty-three-year-old Helen Kelly kept an active social life, but like most women, seldom left home without her purse — particularly if she was driving.
Yet on May 18, 2005 — just two weeks shy of her 58th wedding anniversary — the 5-foot-5 115-pound wife and mother of two grown children suddenly disappeared without a trace and has never been seen nor heard from since.
Arthur “Lennon” Kelly (courtesy Sioux City Journal)
According to reports by Kelly’s husband, Lennon, 85, he woke up at approximately 8 a.m. that Wednesday morning and discovered his wife wasn’t home. He estimated she must have left their 3646 Court St. home in Sioux City sometime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Lennon Kelly said he didn’t think much of her being gone, but when she didn’t return home for lunch, grew concerned. He reported her missing to Sioux City Police at 3 p.m.
Woodbury County in Iowa
Sioux City in Woodbury County
Also missing was Kelly’s gold 2000 Honda Accord with Iowa license plate number 953EDK. Peculiar though, was the fact that Kelly would have left home without her purse, which police located at her residence. In addition, she’d made no comments to her husband about travel plans to go anywhere — that day or otherwise. Yet the active senior had apparently left the couple’s home with nothing more than the clothes on her back.
The Sioux City Police Department made a public appeal for anyone with information to contact them, and received a few tips that turned up nothing. In mid July, authorities were prompted to investigate a Missouri River boat ramp on the Sioux City side. Despite a search by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, they found no sign of either Kelly or her vehicle.
- Courtesy photo trulia
- The 3646 Court Street home in Sioux City, Iowa, where Helen Kelly was last seen.
“This is unusual behavior on her part,” Sioux City Police Detective Greg Rose told the Sioux City Journal in a story published August 1, 2005. “We’re obviously hoping that someone in the public can help us out… point us in the right direction,” Rose said.
Rose indicated that prior to her disappearance, Helen Kelly had been diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition, but that the condition was not life threatening.
Lennon Kelly was no stranger to the Sioux City Journal; his father, Eugene H. Kelly, was the publisher of the Sioux City Tribune, which merged with the Journal in the late 1930s. Lennon Kelly — who graduated with a law degree from the University of Iowa — had once worked as a reporter for the Journal prior to taking over as general manager for KTRI Radio.
Four years after Helen’s disappearance, Lennon Kelly, 89, died in his sleep the morning of July 21, 2009. Interestingly, his obituary — published in the Sioux City Journal on August 2, 2009 — stated that his wife Helen “preceded him in death in May 2005.”
In 2010 after a young couple had moved into the 3646 Court Street home, problems began to surface. The couple’s young son began to insist an “old lady” was roaming about the house. She lived in the “crawl space below the kitchen,” he told his parents.
- Courtesy photo trulia
- The kitchen of the Court Street home. The 3-bedroom single-family home was built in 1959.
It got worse. The boy didn’t want family members going into the kitchen and became upset anytime they were near what he called “the trap door” that led to the crawl space. It’s where the old woman stays, the boy said.
The boy’s parents told him there wasn’t and never had been any crawl space under the kitchen or otherwise, but he kept insisting there was, the couple removed part of the kitchen flooring. There, indeed, they discovered something like a trap door leading to a crawl space directly beneath the kitchen. They notified police of their find.
According to an anonymous source, the Sioux City Police Department — like the victim’s children — had never been aware this crawl space existed and therefore had never searched the area after Helen’s 2005 disappearance.
Though no other family member other than the young son claimed to see the “old woman” in the Court Street home, the boy eventually learned to live with what he and his family now refer to as “Ghost Grandma.”
About Helen Kelly
Helen Jean (Braunger) Kelly was born August 26, 1921, in Sioux City, Iowa, the last child of 10 in the Josephine “Jessie” Marie Hensler and Anton “Anthony” Braunger family. Her father was a German butcher who came to the United States and built a large and lucrative meat market in Sioux City.
Helen and Lennon Kelly’s survivors included their daughter, Anne Krause of Fish Creek, Wis.; a son, Anthony “Tone” Kelly and his wife, Beth of Rochester, N.Y.; and four grandchildren, Chris, Kelly, Ryan and Ashley Krause.
If you have any information about Helen Kelly’s unsolved disappearance, please contact the Sioux City Police Department at 712-279-6390 or Iowa Cold Cases via our Contact form.
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