Man charged with murder in neighbor's slaying

By Jeanie Powell - bio | email
Posted by Dana Franks - email and Stephen Gallien

TONEY, AL (WAFF) - A Toney man was charged with murder Tuesday after he allegedly awoke Monday to find his neighbor dead after a night drinking together.

Madison County Sheriff's Deputies were called to the scene Monday morning after getting a call that Charles Ray Helms, 44, was found dead at a home on Bentley Drive.

"They were very close friends, very close friends," said neighbor and friend Connie Boyett.

According to Madison County sheriff's investigators, Helms and Billy Roy Bennett had been neighbors and friends for several years.

Bennett told authorities he and Helms had been up all night drinking Monday morning, and the man who discovered his friend dead confessed that he doesn't remember anything from the night before. He provided investigators his small-caliber handgun believed to be the murder weapon.

After his interview with investigators, Bennett was arrested on a charge of murder and placed in the Madison County jail under $30,000 bond.

Helms's girlfriend told WAFF 48 News that her boyfriend lived inside an area which was also marked off by crime scene tape.

Neighbors said Helms lived on Bentley Drive his whole life and used to own a glass company with his dad. He had two grown daughters. Recently he had been doing odds and ends kind of work.

Boyett said she knew the man well.

"He was a very nice guy, always willing to help you if he could," she said.

Investigators confirmed the man died of multiple gunshot wounds. They spent hours on the scene Monday, snapping pictures, taking reports, and collecting that crucial evidence that will they hope will shed light into an otherwise blurry chain of events.

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