Helen Mintiks killed at New York Met Opera House
When a scenic performance takes place, all eyes are on the stage. Could someone really disappear in the middle of a show? This is exactly what happened to Helen Mintiks.
It was the night of July 23, 1980. The Berlin Ballet was performing at the famous Metropolitan Opera House in New York. At one point in the performance, recorded music was played in place of the orchestra, which was made up of talented independent musicians. These musicians used this period as a break.
But 45 minutes later, around 9:30 p.m., the performers were supposed to be back – but a seat in the strings section was empty. Helen Mintiks, a 31-year-old violinist, was nowhere to be found.
“In a high profile orchestra like the Met, you get people who don’t miss their signals,” David Black, writer of “Murder at the Met,” said in “New York Homicide,” airing. Saturdays at 9 / 8c to Oxygen.
The performance ended and Mintiks was still missing. Some friends have looked for her, but without success. They knew she wouldn’t have left behind her violin, an instrument that costs thousands of dollars. Authorities have been contacted.
Mintiks was originally from a small town in British Columbia, the daughter of poultry farmers. His passion in life was music.
“She told me her dad drove her 40 miles in his truck to take violin lessons in Vancouver,” Mintiks friend Judith Olsen told producers, who met her when they were attending prestigious school in Vancouver. Julliard performing arts in New York. “She was nice, she talked to everyone, she was constantly baking cheesecakes for her friends … a world class joker … I saw the serious side too. She was addicted to music and that was going to be his life. “
She was married to an artistic soul like her: Janis Mintiks, a sculptor. He was contacted and explained that he was waiting for his wife at the Met so that he could accompany her to her apartment, but she never showed up. He had come home, hoping he had missed her somehow, only to realize that she was gone.
A search of her locker showed that the street clothes she previously wore were still there, leading investigators to suspect that she was still in the building. The authorities combed through the opera house, but it was a difficult process, as each floor was a huge maze.
“[Investigators] were warned by some stagehands, “Don’t go anywhere on your own because you can go somewhere, take a wrong turn, close a door, get lost and realize you’re locked in,” Olsen told the producers.
The next day they made a horrible discovery. An investigator had gone to the roof and scrutinized a well.
“When they looked down, they discovered Helen Mintiks’ body – naked, bloodied and broken,” John Bruno, a retired New York Homicide Task Force detective, told producers.
Mintiks had fallen about 30 to 45 feet when he died. She was tied up, gagged and blindfolded, her purse and clothes near her. The only solid lead investigators had was a palm print on a pipe near where the body was dumped. There was no sign that she had been sexually assaulted and she died between 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., according to the medical examiner.
Due to the timing and the fact that the building was so complicated to navigate, authorities suspected the killer was acquainted with the Metropolitan Opera House. They realized they had to talk to everyone who worked there.
They showed pictures of Mintiks to everyone backstage and spoke to hundreds of people – and one woman recalled seeing her the night before.
“I had seen her the day before. During the recorded musical ballet I was waiting for an elevator which was near the stage and there was this woman and a man and they came and started waiting for the elevator too and she spoke to me and it was Helen … The elevator went down to the basement first and I got off the elevator and they continued, ”said Laura Cameron Cutler, dancer with the Berlin Ballet.
Mintiks wanted to know the whereabouts of a famous Russian dancer who was performing that evening, as she wanted to put him in touch with her husband for potential employment opportunities. She had asked Cutler where to find it, and the other man replied, “the fourth floor,” Cutler said.
But it was not true. The performers were all on stage. Was this worker wrong? Or had he deliberately lied to Mintiks to make her alone?
Cutler said the man was dressed in workman’s clothes, which led investigators to suspect he had been a machinist. And the knots that had been used to tie the Mintiks were the kind of knots a machinist would make.
Cutler made a sketch of the man in the elevator, and it seemed like a machinist – Craig S. Crimmins, who looked incredibly nervous during an interview with authorities. He voluntarily gave his fingerprints – and it matched the palm print found on the roof.
Another red flag arose when detectives learned he was missing when the orchestra returned from hiatus.
“We then learned that he had not made any signals and that he was missing and [the stagehands] were looking for him, “retired NYPD detective Michael Struk, 20th Precinct, Manhattan, told producers.
A colleague then claimed he saw Crimmins in the electrician’s living room, asleep during the signals. When detectives insisted, this coworker admitted that Crimmins had asked him to lie for him.
Crimmins was questioned several times before finally confessing. He revealed that he passed Mintiks in the elevator, and when she rejected him, he was enraged. He “threatened her with a hammer,” an investigator said, and pursued her until she was trapped. After trying unsuccessfully to have sex with her, he took her to the roof, where he threw her.
In September 1981 he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in life imprisonment.
“It’s really a relief to know that he can’t do it to anyone else, but there’s never a closure for that sort of thing,” Olsen told the producers.
To learn more about this case and others like it, watch “New York Homicide”, aired Saturdays at 9 / 8c to Oxygen.