Trio accused of killing five wanted to start self-awareness program

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 28, 2001

MARTINEZ — A trio accused of killing five people, including the daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop, wanted to bring truth to the world through a self-awareness program, prosecutors say. 

The days surrounding the brutal slayings and dismemberments in August 2000 were outlined in Contra Costa County court Monday by Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett. 

The remains of an elderly Concord couple and Selina Bishop were found in nine duffel bags in the Mokelumne River. 

Two brothers and a friend also face murder charges in the shooting deaths of Selina Bishop’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend in Marin County. 

Glenn Helzer, 31, his brother, Justin, 29, and housemate Dawn Godman, 27, also are charged with extorting $100,000 from Ivan and Annette Stineman, the elderly Concord couple. Selina Bishop was Glenn Helzer’s girlfriend. 

In addition to five counts of murder, the trio faces charges of conspiracy, extortion, false imprisonment and drug possession. They have pleaded innocent to all charges. 

A preliminary hearing, where a judge decides whether there’s enough evidence to support the charges, is scheduled to begin next Monday. 

Glenn Helzer was an instructor in a self-awareness program called Harmony, and wanted to bring truth to the world by directing his own group, according to court documents. He planned to use drug dealing, an escort service and extortion to finance it. 

The $100,000 extorted from the Stinemans was to be the seed money for the escort service, which would provide enough cash to start Helzer’s program, according to court documents. 

At Monday’s hearing, defense attorneys asked the judge to close the preliminary hearing to prevent publicity from biasing potential jurors. Judge Douglas Cunningham will rule Wednesday on that motion. 

Prosecutors say Glenn Helzer’s plan started to come together in May 2000 when the brothers and Godman moved into a rental home in east Concord. They began buying equipment: ski masks, handcuffs and leg irons, a saw, a plastic tarp and duffel bags. Justin Helzer, a former military police officer, bought a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic. 

To launder the Stinemans’ money, Glenn Helzer turned to Bishop, a 22-year-old woman who knew him as “Jordan.” He asked her to deposit a large inheritance to keep it away from his estranged wife. 

On Aug. 1, 2000, Godman deposited two checks written on the Stinemans’ account into Bishop’s bank account. That same day, Bishop spent the evening with her mother, Jennifer Villarin. Bishop was last seen Aug. 2 at a Berkeley bar with “Jordan.” 

Villarin and her boyfriend, James Gamble, spent the night at Bishop’s apartment. Early Aug. 3, both were shot to death, authorities said. 

That same day, the Stinemans’ daughter reported her parents missing and a surveillance camera recorded a vehicle similar to Justin Helzer’s crossing the Antioch bridge towing a personal watercraft. That was when the three dumped the duffel bags in the river, the prosecutor said. 

By Aug. 7, investigators traced the mysterious “Jordan” to the Helzers’ Concord address. They arrested the trio on suspicion of drug possession and began to piece together evidence they say linked them to the five killings. 

The defendants have been jailed in Martinez without bail.