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North Country couple targeted in international kidnapping case

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 12:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:07 PM EDT
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MOIRA, N.Y. (WCAX) - We are learning more details about a bizarre international kidnapping plot that targeted two elderly people from New York’s North Country.

Quebec authorities tell us James and Sandra Helm are now safe after they were found Tuesday in Magog, Quebec, about 30 miles north of Newport, Vermont. Both cities are on the shores of Lake Memphremagog.

The Helms are from Moira, New York, where they are well-known in the community. They live and work there, they have kids and grandkids there. And people here in town told me they are shocked something like this could happen to such nice people.

As you soon as you enter Moira, you are greeted with a warm welcome.

“Rural community, small town,” Moira Town Supervisor Justus Martin said. “People know each other well.”

The small town of nearly 3,000 people is located 10 miles from Malone and the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation.

A kidnapping is something Martin thought he would never hear about in the community.

“You couldn’t even wrap your mind around it,” he said. “You are looking for a frame of reference or something that happened to somebody else and you’re like, what is this?”

James Helm Sr. is 76 years old. He’s been the highway superintendent of the community for 12 years. His wife, Sandra, is 70.

The two first were first reported missing on Sunday by James' employees at the highway department.

Quebec Police say the Helms were found Tuesday on Grande Allee, a street in Magog, Quebec, nearly three hours from Moira.

Martin says he can’t imagine this happening to this family.

“Jim and Sandra are elderly people that care for others. It was a big shock,” Martin said.

We do not know where the couple is currently, but there are emotional loved ones at their home on State Route 95

So far, five people have been arrested in the kidnapping investigation: one from Magog, two from Montreal and two from Akwesasne.

The community is happy to know the Helms are back in safe hands.

“It’s been a time of hoping and praying for good news,” Martin said. “So when we heard it, it was such a relief.”

We don’t know where the Helms are now or how they wound up in Magog, since the border is closed due to coronavirus.

The FBI says it will share more on the case in the coming days.

Related Story:

FBI: Missing northern NY couple found safe

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