WORTHINGTON, Minn. — The owner of a stolen vehicle found in Nobles County has been found dead in his home, and his death has been ruled a homicide.
In the early morning of July 30, a Worthington police officer initiated a traffic stop. The driver was identified as Sammual Helms, 32, of Glencoe, Minnesota, who reportedly claimed he was borrowing the vehicle to drive to Kansas. He then changed his story and said he had purchased the vehicle from its current owner, according to court documents. A police radar detector was reportedly visible on the dashboard.
The officer ran the vehicle's plates and learned it was registered to Timothy Tinge, 65, of Plato, Minnesota. A call to Tinge's phone went straight to voicemail, after which Helms reportedly became visibly nervous.
Searching the vehicle, the officer found a wallet containing Tinge's license and social security card. A gas receipt showed that Tinge's bank cards had been used to buy gas a few hours earlier.
Police contacted the McLeod County Sheriff's Office and asked if a deputy would go by Tinge's residence and try to make contact. McLeod County did make an attempt, but were not able to make contact and noted that lights were on inside Tinge's home.
In talking with police officers, Helms reportedly stated that Tinge was deceased and that he had seen Tinge dead inside Tinge's home. His comments are described in the criminal complaint as erratic and incoherent at times.
Officers contacted Helms' family, who were concerned and confirmed that Helms had been acting unusual lately and had a history of drug use. Becoming apprised of the situation, one family member reportedly said, "Oh my god, he’s lost it again."
Police brought Helms to the Sanford emergency room first, where he was cleared of mental health concerns. He was then arrested and charged with felonies possession of stolen property and possession of a code grabbing device, and misdemeanors driving after license revocation and window tint too dark. Possession of stolen property carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, but if convicted, Helms will be sentenced based on criminal history.
Meanwhile, the McLeod County Sheriff's Office entered Tinge's home, where they found him deceased. The manner of death was ruled a homicide, and is being investigated. Law enforcement does not believe this was a random incident and is advising that there is not an ongoing threat to the public.
Helms is being held in Nobles County Jail on bail set at $15,000 with conditions or $30,000 without.