The Beginning

I, Michelle White AKA (Helderman) resided in Summerville S.C.
One day I suspected I was pregnant. I told my live-in boyfriend, Wilber Davis Marsh Jr. aka Dave. He wanted proof. I saw a billboard sign – ”Scared and pregnant? Call for help!”. They offered free pregnancy tests and counseling. The Alpha Pregnancy Center conducted a pregnancy test and it came back positive. Dave wanted an abortion. I said ”No way! I will have this baby with or without you.” Dave went as far as driving me to Beer City in Ladson SC to call an abortion clinic. He wanted to find out how soon the procedure could be done. I made the call but wasn’t planning to follow through with Dave’s plan.

Members of the ministry would come to my home leaving cards asking to help. They wanted me to come back. I didn’t want to talk to them. One day they caught me outside in the yard doing yard work and asked how I was doing. I told them that I kicked my boyfriend out. They asked what I was going to do. I was going to move to Pensacola Florida, to be with my family. A married couple from the center offered to put me up at the ministry and store my household possessions until I made my plans.

ultrasound of a pregnant womanI was unable to maintain my finances normal due to medical issues related to my kidney and the pregnancy. I was about to lose the trailer I was buying. Incidentally, in July I decided to go to the Alpha house for help when my daughter Teia came back from a visit to her father in Missouri.

The Alpha Pregnancy Center was also a house where they accommodated unwed mothers. There were three pregnant girls that already resided at the Alpha House – two black girls, one who had kids at a fifteen year old runaway, and Nikki.

We were not permitted to leave the house or to have any contact with the outside. I had not yet told my mother I was with child but desperately wanted to. I was told not to do it. I watched the traffic go up and down the road. I went for early morning walks after Teia was off to school, just to get some exercise. I was advised that was one of the forbidden practices. The pastor explained I should not be out there alone. The Alpha House staff saw how strong willed I was by observing me emphatically wish to go for walks, make phone calls and resist the imposition of other forbidden tasks. I would watch TV to pass time. In an effort to strengthen my faith I watched Joyce Meyer ministries. I was told that this was also forbidden, because being Joyce Meyer was a female minister. I did not like the fact that I was forbidden from such things.

However, I did not see how this bizarre restrictive and controlling behavior could really hurt Teia and me. In exchange we got a place to stay as well as quite tasty and healthy regular meals.

Nikki, Teia and I became friends right away. After Teia came home from school and Nikkie was finished with her daily lesson (she had a private tutor that came to the house) we went out to the backyard by the big oak tree. We talked about plans for our babies and adored Teia as she played.

I also made friends with the next door neighbor, Delaine. Delaine had a live-in boyfriend, Carson Driggers. They had two children and one on the way. Delaine received a positive pregnancy test from the house and they called her a sinner because she was unwed and pregnant.

We had a variety of classes available: a prenatal class, Lamaze and such. During one of the Lamaze classes the instructor asked if everyone had been seen by a doctor. They answered yes except me. However, I was taking over-the-counter prenatal vitamins. The instructor immediately went to ask why I had not been seen by a doctor. Shortly after Mrs. Carol, one of the Alpha staff members said that she had the perfect doctor for me.

I really liked the doctor…

I really liked the doctor. Her name was Lee Horton. However, she was a midwife. Later I found out that midwives were not allowed to treat high risk pregnancies and I was high risk. After the first appointment I wanted to call my mother Connie Helderman. One of the staff members at Alpha house, Sharon Williams told me this activity was strictly forbidden. Finally, I talked Sharon into letting me call. Sharon made me promise not to tell the other staff and stated she would be in trouble if I did. My mother said that I could come home and they would help take care of me, Teia and the baby. I was relieved after hearing this. However, I decided to stay at the Alpha House for a while longer so Dave, the father of my unborn child, could have a chance to realize what a gift children are and change his mind about being a father.

My mother called the next day and wanted to talk to me. Mrs. Carol told her that there was no such person there. Connie protested this could not be true. Michelle had just called me yesterday from this number. I have this Alpha House number on my caller ID. Mrs. Carol decided to let my mom talk to me but that I was only allowed to have supervised phone calls and only to my mother.

The fifteen year old …

The fifteen year old, Nikkie Watts, was a ward of the state and had to be at the Alpha House or the Juvenile detention center. She was pregnant and a habitual runaway. She was very unhappy living at this place and a little rebellious. As a result, one night Nikki climbed out of the window to go meet her boyfriend, Matthew Vargo. When I discovered her missing I waited up for her. When she came back I advised Nikki not to ever do that again. I explained the consequences and the danger of sneaking out in the middle of the night. We were locked in the house and not allowed to go anywhere without the supervision of the Alpha staff, or married couples from the churches. The younger black girl also snuck out one night. We felt so trapped, like prisoners. The Alpha staff would tease and torment Nikki about wetting the bed and being pregnant so young. They called her a sinner and told her she didn’t deserve to have her baby. And they rudely questioned her mother instincts. I protected Nikki, like a big sister, from the people that worked there.

Nikki’s mother, Samantha Pritchard, was trying to get custody because Nikki was so unhappy. However, she was unsuccessful at all attempts. Nikki talked about getting married to Mathew to escape. She thought if she could get a blood test and marry him before she was caught the state couldn’t do anything to her. All of us were just trying to endure because we needed this help. After a while we started getting a little sneaky and pulled the phone line through the camper where the couples slept when watching over the house at night. We made calls to various people. In September 1997 I called Dave and told him that I was at the Alpha House.

I wanted to see …

I wanted to see if he had any thoughts of changing his mind about helping me raise our child. Dave was relieved I didn’t leave South Carolina and said he was sorry. He wanted to meet me, so we could talk. I met him in the driveway. The pastor of the Baptist church, the ring leader of the Alpha House pulled across the road in his SUV. He sat there and watched Dave and I while we talked about plans for the baby.

The next day immediately after Teia was put on the school bus, several cars pulled into the Alpha House parking lot. I knew that it was a meeting in which they came to yell at me. They told me that I had broken a major rule. I explained that I knew, but stated that “I just wanted to let him know that I was still here. In addition, I wanted to know did he want anything to do with this child. “

They explained that it didn’t matter why I talked with Dave and then kicked Teia and me out. One of their major rules was “no contact with the father of the babies.” I expressed that they should promote families to stay together. The Pastor then said I may be too old for the house and the rules. I was then required to have my belongings out of the house by the time Teia arrived home from school.

Strangely enough, I was still allowed to see Nikkie. We would get together for talks and go to church together. Samantha was allowed to come more often since she was going through the courts to regain custody. She also was accompanying Nikkie at church more often. I was also permitted to take the older black girl out to lunch. However, this turned out to be a questioning session, I sensed something was wrong. I never took her out to lunch again.

Thursday, November 13, 1997?

I went to visit Nikki. She came bouncing out and pulled out a little wedding ring that Mathew had given her. Nikki was beaming from ear to ear. I hated to be a wet blanket but advised Nikki by saying, “You have to make sure you get married for all the right reasons. You don’t get married just to get out of trouble.”

I realized at sixteen it always seems to be true love, but the majority of those times, it isn’t. I noticed the ladies, Mrs. Carol, Mrs. Nancy and Sharon peering out the window and watching with evil eyes, staring as we talked. I told Nikki, I had better go before she got into trouble. I promised I would come to see her the next day, Friday, and recommended she not do anything rash.

Friday, November 14, 1997?

As I promised, I went to visit Nikki. I noticed a lot of cars and excitement. Sharon came outside and approached my car. She warned that I was forbidden to come on the property any longer and suggested I leave immediately. She then warned me to never come back. After insisting on knowing why, Sharon accused me of trying to get Nikki to run away. I said Nikki mentioned something about running away yesterday but I came back to make sure she doesn’t. I then asked, “Is she okay?” Sharon just said that I should leave now. I saw the members glaring at me from the porch so in my better interest, I decided to leave. I returned home to wait on a phone call from Nikki.

Sunday, November 16, 1977

I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to go to Faith Assembly Church. I figured they couldn’t stop me from going to church. I promised Nikki I would always be there for her; no matter what. When I arrived everyone looked at me strangely. I figured it was because I was pregnant and unwed. Also the fact I had been kicked out of the house, yet still going to their church. I looked through the crowd but strangely, didn’t see any of the Alpha House girls. Members told me that Nikki and the other girls were not there. I asked if they had gone to one of the other churches. There were two church options both within the same ministry: Baptist Ridge and Faith Assembly of Summerville. After no response, I demanded to know where Nikki was. Mrs. Carol came from the crowd and said “Oh haven’t you heard, she has been murdered.” Nikki was sixteen and six months pregnant at the time. I was stunned; drowning in my faded dream.

The service began, yet I only heard muffled sounds as Mrs. Carol and her crowd walked away. I gathered myself together and walked out, holding back the tears. For a spell, I sat in my truck crying; wondering who could have done this to sweet Nikkie and her baby. She was harmless! She was an angel! I drove home, still crying and wondering.
When I walked in the house Dave was on the phone. He appeared confused. He stated that I was home too early if I had gone to church. Without uttering a word, I went straight to my room. Dave ended his call and asked what was wrong. When he asked, it was if a flood was released from inside me. Finally after the tears diminished a bit, I told him Nikki had been murdered.
The murder occurred on Friday; the release of her homicide hit the airwaves on Sunday night. The report was that Matthew found them after he got off of work. To my surprise, David Powers (Samantha’s boss) was murdered also.
I attended the funeral and there met Samantha. She introduced me to Nikki’s family and friends as one of the elder Alpha House girls that protected Nikki while she was at there. There weren’t any Alpha House girls, staff or pastors in attendance at the funeral. I asked. “Where are the people from the Alpha House?” Samantha said. “Nobody showed up.” I thought that was very strange. Nikki was in that house for the duration of her pregnancy. Yet no one could attend and show their respect?
Samantha said, with all that happened in the house and now this, she was going to have the Alpha House investigated. I was very relieved with this news and intended to wait and find out what became of the investigation.
I went on with my pregnancy dealing with Dave and his Bi Polar Disorder. He started drinking a lot. I never had much time with him. I spent my days with his elderly mother, Jackie, whom I felt much affection for. I was helping Dave’s mother babysit her grandchildren. I found them in need of more structure, such as a daycare, throughout the day.
In December, I got a call from the couple storing my furniture, clothing and other belongings. The man told me to hurry and get my things because they needed the space in their garage. Consequently, I made pickup arrangements and called to let them know of my arrival intentions.
He told me that it was too late; they already donated it all to the Salvation Army. I was very upset and instantly drove to the Salvation Army. I started gathering my belongings. The management associates threatened to call the police. I said, “Go ahead! I need them here to supervise this action.” The police came. While there, they called the couple who donated my possessions. They admitted that it was my stuff and they donated them. I felt desperately betrayed by their actions. I trusted them and felt as if I was a close friend of this couple. Pictures and heirlooms were broken by the dumpster. I was very upset. I felt sick. I started having Braxton Hicks. I asked the man behind this, “Why did he do this?”
He must have felt some remorse because he apologized. He began to help load all the items into my truck. I asked, “Where is my twenty-five compact disc player, washer, dryer’ all other belongings not there?” He said he had the rest of the stuff at his house. I wanted to go get it at once. He advised me to call the next day to make arrangements to come get it.
I called the following day. By this time, the number had been disconnected. I decided to drive to the beauty shop where his wife worked. I was informed by another hair dresser that they moved. She alleged they packed up and got the hell out of South Carolina. I thought to myself, “This was bizarre behavior for this middle age couple with two beautiful children and a gorgeous two story red brick home!”
I was getting close to my due date. Meanwhile at each prenatal visit, they continued mixing up my records with another Michelle White. This other Michelle White was also pregnant and due the same day with what seemingly were similar conditions. I finally asked them to change my name on my records from Michelle White to Michelle Helderman, my maiden name.
I was overdue for delivery, so the midwife and doctor decided to induce labor on the March 9th. Due to no progress they decided to induce again the following day the 10th. My mother and sister-in-law surprisingly arrived. The doctor advised if this attempt was not successful, they would perform a C-Section. Unfortunately, after two days with no success, instead of performing the C-Section, they sent me home. The Chief of Staff told us they were afraid of getting charged for a fraudulent claim. He stated, “The baby was not in any danger.” In despair, I went home. I was however having mild contractions. Worried and unable to sleep, because of the contractions, I returned to the hospital on the 11th. They admitted me to labor and delivery. The nurse gave me a shot to help me sleep and told me to return Friday the 13th for a stress test.

Friday 13th 1998?

Midnight on Friday 13, 1998 my water broke. Dave called the hospital. The nurse asked how far apart the contractions were. Dave told her they were three to five minutes apart. She then told Dave to wait till the contractions were closer together or when they were unbearable or they would just send me home again.
I went to my appointment at the Low Country Women’s specialist. It was crowded so I had to wait to be seen. When they finally called my name, I gave a urine sample. That is when I noticed the dark color in my urine. Lee said the baby was a little stressed so she put me on the monitor and confirmed I was in active labor.
doctorLee Horton called the hospital Labor and delivery area. She was told that the hospital was full. She, Lee Horton, threatened to take me to another hospital, MUSC, if they didn’t fit me in. They told her to send me over. Upon my arrival, there were no birth rooms available so they put me in a recovery room. In that room, the baby monitor was malfunctioning. After some time, they finally decided to take a woman off induction and put me in her room. I saw her as she was being wheeled out.
After five hours in the hospital I started to feel pressure. The doctor decided to perform a C-Section. I received an epidural and was awake for procedure. I met Dr. Martin for the first time in the operating room. I commented, “It’s finally nice to meet you.” Dr. Martin laughed then asked Lee Horton if they were going to do a tubal ligation during this procedure. I immediately responded by answering, “Yes.” However, Lee said, “No, not this time.”
The doctor then began instructing Lee Horton where to make each incision and how. I knew she was not certified to this so I said “Hey no practicing on me.” Dr. Martin explained she was in training. Dave was in the OR beside me the entire time. After all the jerking and tugging the doctor yelled “Wow fountain of youth!” Dave started taking pictures then Dr. Martin nodded to Dave. Dave got up and walked out. I asked, “Where is he going, what’s going on?” The Anesthesiologist on my right side, called for respiratory stats. I saw the clock right above his head; the time was 5:45 pm. Next, I looked to my left and saw them running out of the operating room with my baby.
When I woke up, I was in the recovery room. Teia was there, by my bedside, feeding me popsicles. Teia asked, “Where is the baby?” I responded saying, “I don’t know.” Teia went to get another Popsicle from the nurse. Dr. Martin came in and said there had been a freak accident. Before I could even react I was drugged and fell asleep again and again. Once when I was awake, I was too scared to open my eyes in fear they were going to put me under again. I knew Dave was in the room. I heard him ask Lee, “When is she going to be awake?” Lee said she is awake now. The next thing I remember, I was waking up on seventh floor. They moved me from the maternity ward. The nurse said your family is waiting to see you outside the door. I didn’t want to see anyone. I asked where Teia was and then said I wanted to see Dave. The nurse said he wasn’t around. When Dave came in he said that the baby died and he took Teia home. I did not understand this, one minute the baby was okay with a healthy heartbeat and the next minute he was dead. And why did he take Teia home to deal with this on her own?
The nurses finally asked if I wanted to see the baby. I said yes. When the nurses arrived with the baby Dave walked out of the room. I looked for the blood mark on his head that should have been there from the internal monitor that was in place during labor. There was no mark on this baby. The two nurses were standing to the back of the room on my right whispering. I asked, “So you’re mine?” I had to say hello and goodbye to my baby at the same time. I gave the baby back to the nurses. After being delivered on the 13th, Baby Cody went to morgue on the 14th.
The next day the doctor came in and said that he didn’t know what had happened; he had never seen this before. He said that he had been doing this for twenty- two years and has never seen such an occurrence.
I asked for an autopsy. Dr. Martin said “No! The brain decomposes after 24 hours. She said I didn’t do a tuba ligation. So you could have another baby in 6 months or so.”
The hospital staff was pressuring me to release the baby to a funeral home. I contacted an attorney because I wanted an autopsy performed. The attorney told her to release the baby to the funeral home and there will be an investigation. I released the baby on the 16th. Yet, hospital records say the 13th.
Jonnie Jr. from the funeral home said that this baby did not look like most babies that come in. He also asked why wasn’t there an autopsy performed? He then asked if I have an attorney. All I knew was that I was looking into it. They went ahead and buried the baby and went with the medical malpractice wrongful death suit. The midwife, Lee Horton, was trying to call me. Dave would not let me talk to her.
The day of the funeral Dave was mad. I was going to get an apartment and move out of his parent’s house. I was crying all the time and Dave was having a hard time dealing with it. Dave wanted all of the baby stuff out, and I said that I needed help. He thought that getting rid of the stuff would help me get over my depression. When he did this, I got upset and started crying. He left.
At this time, his niece Carla was pregnant. After she had her baby, they wanted me to hold the new baby. I couldn’t. I was afraid I was not strong enough. Throughout Carla’s pregnancy, they never made a big deal about it.
At one point I became suicidal. My thoughts were that I was causing too much pain for everyone else. So I called poison control and asked what to do if my friend had taken sleeping pills and drank a bottle of vodka. I was told that she needed to be taken to the hospital or she would die. I had my recipe for suicide.
That night I was going to end all the misery and stop hurting everyone. My plan was to kill myself when everyone was asleep. Teia was asleep. Dave was snoring. As I was just about to put my plan in action, Teia came in the bedroom crying. She said she had a bad dream that she had lost her baby brother and her mother at the same time. She felt that she was going to be alone and asked me to please never leave her. Those actions brought me back to reality. I knew then I had to be strong and keep living if for no other reason than for Teia. I then determined I would not leave Teia alone in this world. I packed my stuff and my parents came to get me.

Teia and I went to live with my parents in Florida…

Teia and I went to live with my parents in Florida. The doctors from South Carolina gave me Xanax and sleeping pills. I felt numb. I could not feel the warmth of living anymore. My mom saw what was happening to me and begged me to quit taking the medication. She said she would help me get through this without pills.

I went to work for Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola Fl. I continued discussing the autopsy with my attorney, but, he kept saying, “Wait.” I began talking to Dave every day. Finally, I forgave him. After a while, with a lot of soul searching and talking, Dave came to get me. He took me back to South Carolina. On the fourth of July, Teia was in Oregon with her father. She was off all her medication for ADD and was coming back home to be with me. While with her, Teia appeared to be very depressed. Her father, sensing her frailty, did not let her talk about the birth. They were sitting at the dinner table when Teia said she would die to be with her brother.

I immediately took her to a counselor. They put her back on the medication and said that she was not suicidal; after no more than one day of counseling. I was very unhappy with this determination, minus any treatment. They had made a complete determined and fixed her issue after only one day. I did not return or take Teia there anymore. I decided to work with Teia myself.

Mr. Clekis, the attorney, was telling me he needed Dave to recount the events he witnessed at the time of my child’s birth. I started asking Dave to recount what happened, especially, when I was under the effects of anesthesia. Dave then began to physically abuse me demanding that I let it go.

No cause of death had been documented on the death certificate. I contacted the mid wife, Lee Horton, to see if she could tell me what occurred and provide a cause of death. Lee said that it was placenta eruption. I asked her what was going on. She would never provide me with a straight answer; just kept referring me to other people.

When speaking with my Lee would not do so without her attorney being present. Lee kept paging me. That caused Dave to really beat and further abuse me. One time during a physical episode of abuse, Teia jumped on his back. Fearing for her safety, I told her to run and get away. Dave caught up with her, however and began dragging her back into the house while I was lying down on the front yard trying with all my strength to get up and help Teia. Dave threw her on the bed. Threatened her and told her to be quiet. He then got in his truck and left. The neighbor helped me up from the ground and by then, the ambulance was arriving. Someone noticed the altercations and called for assistance.

Dave was out of the picture for a few days. I went to the hospital, had a cat scan performed and was sent home. By this time, we had split up. I went to stay with one of his friends.
Dave quit drinking so he and I got back together. We got our own place. Everything was going pretty good with the exception of Dave’s day of rage. Usually on Sundays Teia and I attended church. We would play with the kids in the neighborhood or do some gardening afterwards.

On Cody’s third birthday …

On Cody’s third birthday, Dave asked me for the first time if I wanted to go to the grave. I said I would ask Teia. She said no. She wasn’t aware it was his birthday. Towards the end of the school year I was called to meet with the principle and Teia’s teacher because they were confused and didn’t understand a letter she wrote for her pact test. The subject evolved around the most important thing to her. I read it. It was titled, “My Baby Brother.” At the very beginning she stated, “You think my baby brother is dead, but you’re all wrong. I was shocked by this. I had no problem understanding the words she wrote. But like the teacher, I didn’t know what to do or say. I knew something was bothering her about the birth or the events in the hospital but could never get anything out of her or Dave for that matter. I asked if she had been receiving counseling like I requested at the beginning of the year. They said that they didn’t know but they would ask the counselor.

After the letter, I searched for a way to get her some help. I noticed a sign of a Kids Expo in the downtown area. I thought if I got her involved with something she would come out with what was bothering her eventually.

We went to the expo. There was face painting, crafts and games going on. We had a blast. Before we left we went upstairs to see the events occurring up there. There were lots offering camps of all kinds for kids. I looked around a little and read various pamphlets as Teia engaged in some activities. I saw a woman resembling Lee Horton and I walked up to her. I asked about her camp and told her a little about Teia, that she was on Meds and needed a camp that could provide medical assistance for her. Then to my surprise they offered a camp for kids experiencing loss or grief. I was intrigued and said it would be perfect for Teia.

The representative began asking for information regarding the situation. I said she lost her baby brother and had a hard time dealing with that loss it. She surprised me by asking if Lee Horton was my midwife. I said I wasn’t at liberty to say. She then asked if the occurrence had taken place at Trident Hospital and if Dr. Martin was the doctor. I said I was just searching for help for my daughter; I cannot talk about the legal matters. She said she had heard about it and even asked if it happened in 1998 I did say yes to that. She gave me her number and said to give her a call. She was the head coordinator of the expo and would be glad to help. I was for finding a camp for Teia but wondered how the representative knew and what she was aware of regarding my case.

I began working with the school and continued to try and handle Dave’s rages. He wanted me to marry him and have another baby. I knew that was out of the question. I said. I don’t need to change my name in the middle of this lawsuit; we know how that confuses everybody.” He then demanded that I drop the lawsuit. I asked, “Are you crazy? I still don’t know what happened when I was under anesthesia and left alone. Plus, I still want an autopsy.”

Dave said he thought about killing himself a few times. One time, when the subject came up, he put his shotgun in his mouth and said he was going to put himself out of misery. I said please don’t do that. I knew the gun wasn’t loaded, but I had a friend that died playing Russian Rolette and Dave knew that. Seeing Dave do this was horrible. He appeared to be so weak. Then he just got in his truck and drove away for a while.

I called the representative I met at the expo. She told me another expo was to take place at Charlestown Landing. Teia and I went and met up with her. She told me of a camp that participated in horseback riding events. In addition, they offered counseling for grief-stricken children. My plans were then to send Teia that summer after school let out.

I was meeting with the teachers at school and wondering why she hadn’t been receiving counseling or even talked to at least once a week to see how she was doing with her studies or to see if she would open up and mention what was bothering her about her brother. After the letter she wrote, I knew she was still bothered three years later.

It was Sunday; we had plans to go to church together. For the first time, Dave was planning to attend church services with us. We had plans to go fishing afterwards. I arose early, fixed breakfast and Teia and I ate. Dave was still in the bed. Teia went outside to play with Brandon as I was getting ready to shower. Since he had not gotten out of bed, I asked Dave if he was going with us. He said he wasn’t going because he needed a haircut. I said, “You’re going to let that stop you?” Then he went on by saying he wasn’t good enough or ready to go to church. He needed to change a few things in his life before he start going to church. I said that God could help him. You go to church to practice on becoming a good Christian. God accepts you and loves you as you are; with all your flaws. He said, he wasn’t going and he said he didn’t want me to go off without him to these other churches Teia and I had been visiting. I knew not to argue. I suggested that his mom and dad take Teia. He said they probably wouldn’t. I asked why not, they have before and that they would be taking the other grand’s. I then said, “Call them and see!” He dialed his mom’s and asked. After he hung up the phone, I asked, what did she say? He said, she said she didn’t want to be responsible for taking her. I was offended. I said, I am supposed to be marrying into this family and they won’t take my daughter to church while their son keeps his fiance under his thumb.

Dave’s day of Rage

Like so many Sundays, I had a message on the answering machine from Teia’s counselor. She was apologetic that she hadn’t got to counsel Teia but stated the school didn’t have a lot of time for that. I was disappointed with that statement and wanted to save the message and let the principle hear it. Dave was raging so “Dave” erased it. He said, “You should mind your own business and just let Teia be a kid.” I said, “This is my business. Looking for help for her wasn’t stopping her from being a kid. She is usually a happy child. She gets along with everyone. But she is writing letters about her brother. Whatever she is harboring inside her is stopping her from being a ‘content’ child. Maybe it was what she saw, I don’t know. She was gone when I woke up on the seventh floor; you had already taken her home. You won’t tell me about what went on when I was out because it’s too hard for you to talk about it. My child is still grieving after three years and everybody says she will bounce out of it and that kids are resilient. Whatever that means for Teia I don’t know.”

I was very angry and he knew it because I spoke out loudly and expressed that he was holding me back. He asked from what? I said for one thing, going to church and so many other things I don’t want to mention right now. Then before I realized what I was saying it flew out of my mouth; I said. “I am going to take a shower and take my daughter fishing like we planned. But I want you gone by the time I get out.” He asked what? I said again, “I want you gone. We are through! You are holding me back and I must move on.”
He looked as if he had been kicked in the teeth. I went to the shower and prayed to the angels to just make him go away without any trouble. I just wanted it to be over. When I got out, to my surprise he had packed his clothes and was already gone.

After kicking Dave out, a neighbor by the name of Tina Spivey ad I became friends. I started reviewing all my medical files. I noticed a phone number listed that was not mine; one unfamiliar to me. It wasn’t Dave’s moms. I called the number and a man answered. I asked who I was speaking with. The male voice stated, “Bill White and who am I speaking with,” he asked. I said I must have the wrong number and hung up.

Puzzled and not able to let go of this, I called back and asked if Bill White was residing in the house on the corner of Ridge Baptist Rd. His response; “Yes.” I remembered there being a Michelle White that the LCWS kept getting my records mixed up with, so I asked if Michelle was there. To my surprise, He said, “Not at the moment, may I take a message?” I said no. I’ll call her back later.

The next day I went up to the house, rang the doorbell and Bill answered. I asked for Michelle. He said she was at the school, she’ll be back soon. I asked if this was still the Alpha House. He said no. He asked who I was. I said I was an old friend. I’ll just come back later. I walked away.
A few days later I was perplexed about what to do. I decided to go and watch, wait for Michelle. I sat across Hwy 17 in a trailer park just across the street from the old Alpha House. I had a perfect view. As I was watching a bus from Faith Assemble Christian Academy pulled up. Michelle came out the door and she had a toddler in her arms. The toddler had blonde hair and was around three or so. She walked out to greet the schoolgirl coming off the bus. Michelle had brown hair with a red tint. Her build was about the same as mine but she had a little more weight, she was around 120 lbs.

I couldn’t believe my eyes; right away I wondered why she was in the old Alpha House after Nikkei was murdered. What a coincidence she looked like the same female taken off induction so I could be placed in the room. The time I was in labor as they stated all hospital rooms were full. I then began to suspect more; maybe there was some sort of mix up with the babies.

As I was sitting there getting more and more upset; wanting to go to the door and talk to Michelle, I began feeling a strong urge to visit the hospital. My desire was to find Dr. Martin and make him tell me what was going on. As I was trying to line up in my mind what was occurring, Darren Driggers drove by, noticed my car and waved. I knew he saw me and would probably turn around and see what I was doing. So I pulled out of the trailer park, drove around the corner and there he was, heading my way. He pulled up, stopped alongside my car and began talking. A car was approaching so he pulled under a large oak tree and stopped. I got out and asked how he was? He said, “We no longer live in Donna’s house and he had a job.” I noticed his new red Pontiac and commented, “Nice wheels.” He said he just got a settlement from an accident he was in, was trying to get his life straight and get away from the old crowd.

He asked what I was doing in the trailer park, just sitting there. I said wondering what is going on. I explained, I was looking at my hospital records and came across a strange phone number. I called and found out Michelle and Bill White were the residents at that house. It used to be the old Alpha House which is where I stayed at the beginning of my pregnancy. The Alpha House was a home for unwed mothers. I then added, “That is until my friend Nickie was murdered. The funny thing about it is that the LCWS kept getting my records mixed up with another Michelle White that is why I go by Helderman. I changed my name to my maiden name and have been going by Helderman since. I just think something is strange about the whole birth/death whatever we should call it and now this.” He mentioned Dave had said a few things about it but not too much. We had to say our goodbyes and he wished me luck. I said he was doing well and that I would pray for him.

May 22, of 2001?

After a verbal argument with Wilber Davis Marsh, Jr., I asked him to leave the residence. He claimed he was taking the trash to the dump. I said don’t bother just leave me alone. Finally, as he was pulling away, “Dave” threatened me by stating he was coming back and he would kill me. I called the police. An officer came, related the argument and expressed I didn’t want him to come back. He said since it was a domestic dispute he couldn’t do anything. I also told SGT. Reynolds what Dave said about coming back to shoot me and asked him to take his shotgun. SGT. Reynolds said it wasn’t a registered gun so he couldn’t. He recommended that I give it to somebody to hold since I didn’t want it to be available for Dave. After the Officer left I took the gun to Donna Tiller’s house. She wasn’t there but her new boyfriend, Pendygraft was. I told him of the dispute and took pictures of the gun sitting on the porch with the shells beside it in a lawn chair.

I jumped over the six-foot fence in the back yard of Donna’s home and cut my leg. I heard Dave’s truck down the road. Just as I got in my yard I had to duck into the bushes so he would not see me. I was listening to him barrage and tear through my house. He was loading things on his truck as I was taking pictures. Johnny Cole, his drinking buddy was with him. When he drove off, I came from behind the bushes. My heart was aching, hurting so badly I thought I was having a heart attack. I went down on my knees and tried to reach in my chest in an effort to massage my heart; an attempt to ease the excruciating pain. I began praying; asking God to please don’t take me now. Let me get my daughter to Pensacola, Florida with my family. I promised him that I would live right. I started bargaining with God. I said I promise I will never have premarital sex or relationships again; just please let me live.

The pain eventually faded and I was thankful. My guess was that Darren may have mentioned me looking into my records and questioning the whole experience. So I packed up everything I had that could fit in my Thunderbird and headed home to Pensacola, Florida.

Mom welcomed me with open arms and was glad I was home again. I had some pictures that I couldn’t look at or keep. They were from the surgical procedure performed. I gave them to my mom to hold. I enrolled Teia at Blue Angel Elementary on Dog Track Road. I met with the counselor and asked her if she could just counsel Teia and encourage her to do well in school. I expressed that she had been through a lot and experienced far too much as a child. I included the fact she was suffering from grief of her lost brother. She assured me that she would counsel her and expressed that I not worry that she would be fine.
I started doing research on the Internet to find what happened in relation to Nickie’s murder. Over 60 hours of research and nothing was pulling up. My mother started complaining that I was spending far too much time on the Internet and needed to forget the case of my friend. I expressed to her how important it was to find out how she was killed; I wanted to find out everything about the boys who were convicted of killing her and what kind of sentence they received.

One long night as I was getting more and more frustrated, I pushed away from the computer and said a prayer and just asked for anything. As if in response, I looked out the corner of my eye and saw a shadow pass right behind me. It seemed to float into my grandmother’s room. When I turned back around to the computer screen, I looked at the writing and there, as if miraculously appearing where it wasn’t before were the words, “fiance found bodies.” It was little Nickie’s murder. I was amazed. I began reading and crying at the same time. I was devastated while reading the events and the contradiction in the news. Immediately, I printed that article along with all the articles I could find published on the Internet. In reading the information, I discovered that she was shot several times. In addition, David was also found shot multiple times outside, by his truck, around the time he would have been arriving home from work.

I then entered ‘Murder’ in the search engine. Everything I found, I read. To my surprise Darren Driggers had been killed after a night at Dave’s house; our old house we shared on Lodestone Avenue. They weren’t sure exactly what day but unfortunately it was after I talked to him about Michelle and Bill White and the possibility of the mix up. I still wonder if he mentioned my suspicions to Dave.

I called Tina Spivey and asked her what she knew about the murder. She said she hadn’t heard anything of it. She was in shock that Darren was dead. She told me that Donna sold her house and that is all she knew at that time.

I was anxiously awaiting any news on the discovery from the medical malpractice suit and still wanted the autopsy to be performed. I asked several times if we were ever to receive a complete record of the monitor strips. My efforts were unsuccessful. The attorneys still were vague in telling me anything; Maybe they knew nothing themselves. I figured the expert I hired would tell me something after he completed his investigation.

Around that same time, while speaking over the phone, Dave told me he was letting his loan go unpaid and I was about to lose my car to the bank. I called Wendy at SCCU the lady who knew that was my car and knew I paid cash during a Christmas visit. She also knew Dave’s name was only on the car to try and secure lower interest rates for his loans.

A deposition date with Lee Horton and Michelle was scheduled and canceled several times. At that time, my mom and sister-in-law suspected and stated many times they thought Cody may have been switched at birth. I said don’t say that, I can’t say that until I have enough evidence substantiating that fact. I said I couldn’t live just thinking of that. We had to wait on the attorneys and their discovery before we could make an accusation like that.

Teia and I moved into a resident at Bayou Grand Villas. I was renting to own a doublewide trailer through some old acquaintances of mine. They were in Iowa at the time and needed somebody to take care of the house for them. I liked it and it had a lot of potential. I knew how to renovate so I offered to buy it. They agreed stating they just wanted to get out from under it. They said if I get all the liens paid off and bring it up to code I could have it for ten thousand dollars. Thinking that is too good to be true I took the deal. I thought to myself, “Now nobody can move in and I can’t get kicked.

Finally it was time to give my deposition and it was also time for Lee Horton, the Midwife, to also give hers. The appointment was scheduled for September 17, 2001. Mark, a friend of nine years, offered to take me so I didn’t have to go alone. My mother watched Teia.

When we arrived in North Charleston, SC I arranged to stay in a hotel room with two beds. Mark seemed upset. I asked him if he thought this was a romantic get-a-way and we were going to get together. He said “no” in a very sarcastic manner. The next morning arrived fast. It was finally time to face Lee again and see what she was going to say. I was disappointed that Clekis wasn’t there; only Barrow the new co-counsel that Clekis added for assistance because my case was so difficult, was present. If you ask me I thought Clekis was doing just fine by himself.
If there ever was a man to stand and represent what Charleston men look like it would be Barrow. He was Charleston all the way.

When I arrived at Hood Law Firm, I prayed for the Angels to keep me warm and in my seat. Keep me from saying things out of anger. When I walked in the room I sat down and I was unusually warm and calm. When Lee walked in our eyes met and she whispered Michelle. All I could do was stare at the unusual cross she was wearing around her neck. It looked upside-down to me. It was so unusual that during the deposition Barrow asked her about what kind of cross it was.

Martin came in and I finally had a face to put to his name. I had nightmares with him sitting on my bed telling me there has been a freak accident, but he was headless. As he sat across the table we had a stare down because he was nodding off and I thought that was very rude so to keep him on his toes I watched him intensely.

Everyone was in the room and the door closed. Everyone appeared dressed in suit jackets, except me. Lee and Dr. Martin’s attorney was a Snooty looking Alley Mcbeal person. Molly Craig was her name. I noticed she was wearing brown Italian shoes that were just like mine. At least she had good taste in shoes. I thought that was funny. We all sat down and the stenographer asked if anyone was cold everyone was except me and I had a silk shirt on. I knew then the angels were doing what I asked.

Referring to Deposition of Michelle Helderman

I was asked my address and I didn’t want to give my new one but I did on accident. I wanted everything to continue being mailed to my mothers. During a break after Mrs. Molly Craig interrogated me about Teia, I was terribly dismayed. I walked out into the parking garage. It was very cold. I went where the sun could shine on me and give me warmth which was an area towards the end of the parking garage. As I looked up to soak up the rays of the sun, I saw a beautiful white church steeple and it gave me peace of mind.

I went back in to get it over with but my Attorney wasn’t around. I stood on the outside of the room and I heard Lee, Dr. Martin, the stenographer and Mrs. Molly Craig laughing and talking. The whispered words of: she this and she that. The secretary at the desk saw me and knew I was listening and she hollered out “do you have the time”? I answered no don’t you, on your computer. I guess that was a sign to let them know I was standing there. Then my attorney came strolling out I guessed he went to the restroom.

It was lunchtime, I really wasn’t hungry but Barrow said he knew of a good place to go. So we went to the hot spot for all hotshot attorneys. When we walked in, Barrow hung his hat and we were showed to our table and given menus. Barrow excused himself to go to the bathroom or somewhere. Lee, Dr. Martin and Molly Craig each walked right past me. They were seated at a table where I could see them. I just stuck my nose in a picture book of Teia so I could focus on something pleasant. I overheard one of them ask, “Isn’t that her?” Then Lee responded, “Yes.” Barrow arrived at the table about the same time Molly came over and said this wasn’t going to work. Barrow said, well we had our menus and were about to order. Molly and her mob had to go. Barrow said that was bizarre. I just shrugged my shoulders and began to look at the menu. I sensed that Molly Craig was really fired up about our run in. My guess was we invaded her hang out and she had to seek another place to eat.

When it was time to return to the deposition, Lee’s deposition, Barrow recommended I wait for him outside the closed doors. Then again he went to the restroom. When we began, Lee said she had gotten my records to look over from Trident. They were sent so she could prepare for the case. I was wondering how she got them when she didn’t even work there anymore. She said the fact was I never signed that release. I asked Barrow about the legality of this and he said we didn’t need to make a big deal out of it. I wasn’t too please with that response, but I wasn’t sure if it was legal either.

Referring to Deposition of Lee Horton

We commenced and Lee was being probed. It went rather smoothly until she was asked about the heartbeat of the baby. Lee started twisting her lips with her fingers and crying. The stenographer had to tell her to put her hand down so she could understand her. Another occasion her attorney pulled her hand off her mouth. On another occasion during this session, my attorney said he didn’t understand her and asked her to repeat herself. After all that she was so distressed she asked for a break. I was wondering what was going on. Why was she so nervous and crying? What was she hiding? It wasn’t her child.

I walked outside. Some men were welding on the garage and the sparks from the torch were falling on my truck’s windshield and hood. I told them to stop and they said it wasn’t going to hurt it. I asked them if they were crazy and if they knew that the sparks were very hot. They didn’t seem to care so I went in to inform Molly that they were out there throwing sparks on my vehicle. We all went out to observer. Molly demanded that they stop. When they did, I moved my truck. Barrow looked at the hood of my truck and windshield and saw the black ash and pits. He said if it doesn’t blow off down the interstate Molly’s firm will have to pay for it. I knew it wasn’t going to blow off and it wasn’t a cheap paint job it was a Chevy show truck with a two-tone paint job. Not to point out the custom windshield.

As we finished and began to walk out, Barrow said I did well while being grilled by Molly, and stated he felt Lee was a mess. I knew he could have gotten more out of her but for some reason it was over. She told them some of the truth, yet fabricated more. She was not who I thought she was. She was not my friend as she pretended to be.

When I returned I decided to write a book and I called CJH Enterprises, a local publishing company of Pensacola. I met up with the wife of AL Tarven. She was a registered nurse and she agreed that things didn’t seem right and that she knew of somebody from the University of West Florida. She stated he was a retired professor for an English course.

I was having difficulties with Teia and her school: Blue Angel Elementary. Teia said she wanted to go with me to tell the judge what she knew. I told Clekis what she said and he said that it wasn’t necessary. Teia was very upset but my hands were tied.

Teia skipped school and acted out with her grandma while I was away. Teia said she didn’t want to talk to her counselor at school anymore because of one incident she mentioned occurring. Teia said, the counselor came to her classroom and in front of all her classmates, asked her “How do you feel about your dead brother today”. She also asked Teia how the case was going and that she hope we win. Later, Teia told me that she told the counselor that she didn’t think her brother was really dead. The counselors just said whatever and made Teia feel she couldn’t talk to her any longer.

I arranged a meeting with the counselor. I told her Teia didn’t want to talk to her any longer and that for all Teia knows the case is over. I asked that she “Please don’t’ mention it anymore.” After talking to the counselor I met with the principal and assistant principal and told them about Teia skipping school. I asked for advice on how to handle the situation for Teia’s sake. The assistant principal said, maybe you ought to take her to church. I was surprised he said that. The principal was motioning for him to ‘be quiet.’ He told me of his Baptist church just down the road. I said I had my own religion and I followed Joyce Meyer and that he had no right telling me to go to church to solve Teia’s problem in school. Next he recommended that I have another baby maybe that would help. I was very displeased and obviously very upset at the way they made a plan to help Teia. I was finished with that meeting.

Next, I waited in the hall for Teia. I noticed the counselor gawking at me. I said nothing to her. Teia walked up to me and as we were about to leave the counselor approached us and asked when I would be leaving town again? I was astounded and insulted. I told her that I wasn’t. And that it was over. She then asked how it turned out. I said I didn’t want to talk about it especially in front of Teia. We walked away and said no more. I had trouble-getting Teia to school after that incident. She passed the fifth grade, but I don’t see how. I think they just wanted us out of that school. The next year 2001-02 she was enrolled at Jim Bailey Elementary. I prayed that she would do better.

I met Ron Evans the retired Professor from UWF. We began writing the book on the events surrounding my life as well as my friend Nikkei’s life. Teia and I tried staying to ourselves with the exception of the kids in the neighborhood. They would come over to play in our yard. I wouldn’t let Teia run around the neighborhood unsupervised.

When first moving in, I had one friend; Marcus Bloodworth. He had been my friend for ten years. I knew he had a crush on me but I wasn’t interested in a relationship and I told him that. He still stuck around and helped me get the house and yard up to code.

One day Teia and I were home. She was playing her video game and I was just fixing things around the house. A few church people came to my door and asked if they could come in and talk. I hesitated at first but the two elderly ladies won me over and the pastor was talking about his church and invited us to attend. Pastor Campbell was his name. He mentioned just starting a church down the road at Pleasant Grove. He asked if he could pray for us and Lord knows we needed it. So I said yes. I took the controller out of Teia’s hand and we began to pray.

You know how Ministers have this certain way they pray all in order and smooth? Well, not this one. It was so out of the norm. It gave me an uneasy feeling. So I looked up at them then turned and looked at Teia. She was shaking her head, ‘no.’ He said Amen. I said Amen and showed them out. As they were leaving Mark was walking up to the door. The Pastor asked if he was my husband. I said no he is a friend, and hastily guided them to the gate.

Mark was over one day when the welcoming committee came over telling me I had to sign this blank piece of paper stating who I was and my social security number. That was standard policy to move into this park. I said I wasn’t going to sign that blank piece of paper. And asked them where the welcoming part was. They said they were just nosy ladies and that is what they did. I said I wasn’t nosy and I didn’t appreciate their demands and asked them to leave. They came back with comments threatening stating they would call their attorneys and that the prior owners owed them association fees from several months past. They threatened to place a lien on the trailer. I expressed that they have come to the wrong house threatening an attorney. I again ‘asked’ them to leave. Mark went to open the door for them and said didn’t you hear the lady. They finally went away with dazed looks on their faces.

I looked into the association fee’s that were owed. I paid over nine hundred dollars in fees to clear the debt. The ladies apologized and gave me a pool key and told me how much they appreciated the work I have already done to the yard and the house. I said thank you and enlightened them that I just like to stay to myself and don’t want any trouble.

Teia was playing the Violin and doing well with it. I thought she was getting good grades because I never got any notices. Teia still had her bouts of anger episodes. She moved from the house and began violin outside by a large tree. On one occasion, she was acting out for seemingly no reason. I asked her what was wrong. She said I could never tell you! I knew I still had work to do helping her deal with whatever troubled her so much.

I had to take a trip up to Charleston for Dr. Martin’s deposition by myself. Mark stayed with Teia at my house. It was a joke. Martin, Lee and my attorneys stood in front of me and shared the new breath mints by Listerine that burned your mouth. I thought they were acting like new found friends. It was like they all spent Thanksgiving weekend together playing golf or something.
I had a really good time despite the situation. I stayed out on Cole’s Island. I took my brand new bulldog named Chief Joseph along on the trip. We gazed at the sunrise and went fishing.
Chief fell off an eight-foot dock and learned how to swim quickly in the Ashley River. We watched the sun set in the ocean. It was an absolutely gorgeous sight as we stood and walked alongside the river. At the same time, we could see the ocean waves breaking on James Island beach. We had no electricity but were able to take cold showers from a bag that hung in a tree. We were so far away from land I had to take a little boat across the river to get to my truck.

The trip home was horrible. I stopped at a rest area to have a bathroom break and to walk Chief. First I went to use the restroom and as I was sitting on the toilet the male guard hollered in the bathroom and asked, is there somebody in here with a dog? I answered yes. He said well you got to get out because there are no dogs allowed at this rest area. I said okay and he waited, demanding that I leave immediately! I asked him if I could wipe first. Then as I was rushing to get off of the property I accidentally stepped on Chiefs leg, because he always had to be under my feet. I must have dislocated it because he couldn’t standup. I wrapped it with a leather wallet and thought I would find a vet clinic near-by. I was crying and praying he would be okay. I didn’t have enough money for a vet bill. About thirty minutes later he was gnawing at the wallet so I reached over and pulled it off. He seemed to be fine I stopped to check it. He was able to walk fine and I was thanking God.


Finally I was back home with Teia and back to our routine. We went to the theater down town to witness her play her violin. Right before she was to go on stage I heard over the intercom” Would C’Aira Whites mother please come to the back stage.” I was so used to calling her Teia it took a few minutes to realize that was my daughter. When I got back there all the teachers were surrounding her with worried faces. She was pretty calm looking. They told me she was bleeding from her ear. I had never seen that before and told them she was calm and obviously not in pain. So there was no reason to panic. I decided to take her to the emergency room just to get it checked. Come to find out her eardrum had burst. However, the diagnosis was she was going to be okay.

The doctor prescribed medicine and said she would need to be tested for hearing loss later. He said it’s okay if the eardrum burst as long as it doesn’t burst inward. He assured me it was going to heal just fine. He sated this occurred due to a mucus buildup from sinus infections. Teia feared this may happen again so we never took her to the theater again because of the big loud speakers.
unhappyTeia started failing orchestra because we didn’t take her to the shows. But I thought she should at least pass because she participated in school and she had a medical reason. At the end of that year Teia was failing everything including P.E. because she didn’t want to change in front of the other girls or her gay coach. It was later discovered the coach wasn’t allowed in the locker room because of complaints by other children and their parents. She was accused of staring at the girls as they undressed. I didn’t blame Teia. Because she was failing Math, Teia asked if she could be tutored in math during the hour they had P.E same as a friend; Kelsey Declue. The teacher said no and also said that she needed P.E. She asked why Kelsey gets tutored and doesn’t have to take P.E.? They answered by saying they didn’t have room for Teia. Kelsey was a big girl, who may have needed P.E. more than Teia.

Teia began having crying episodes every day when she had to go to school. I just couldn’t get her to like understand the importance and like attending school. She wanted to stay home with me.

I was writing with Ron and he was very interested in the story until his desires took over his mind. He told me one time he could give me a bath and put me to bed without wanting to have sex with me. I could only think one thing, right! That wasn’t going to happen. I started distancing myself from him and he started feeling rejected and didn’t know why.

I took Teia to school most of the time. A few times she rode the bus and came home with horror stories about the kids and dirty magazines. One time the bus driver got mad at the kids for being loud and pulled over while it was raining. The bus slid in the mud and almost tipped. The cops were called to pick up the bad kids and another bus had to deliver the remainder of the kid’s home. Teia’s friends had to bring her to me. She was a wreck; she couldn’t stop crying. She didn’t want to ride the bus ever again. The next day I talked to the bus driver and she said those bad kids weren’t on the bus any longer and Teia was a good girl. I decided it was okay for her to ride it against her protest.

There was this last incident where the bus driver slammed on her brakes because a male student was out of his seat. His body was slammed into the windshield and it cracked. The following day I went to witness the broken windshield and decided it was in Teia’s best interest to be driven by me from then on. The bus driver apparently had issues about controlling the children on the bus. I called and complained and it was noted. Then there was another incident occurring in the school. A male student was going down the hall stabbing kids with a pencil and Teia had been hit. She had lead in her leg. I again complained, only this time to Jim Paul himself. He was very rude and said there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He asked why I was calling him. He stated, “Why didn’t I get in my vehicle and go to the school and take care of the problem myself?” I knew then that public school wasn’t doing Teia any good. She was acting out and very sad. I put her in Taekwondo to rebuild her self-esteem and she loved it, yet she still hated school.

Read what happened with the investigation and the cold cases