A Charlotte-area man on the run from a rape charge can’t seem to stay off social media, and even has posted taunts against the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office on the department’s own Facebook page.
Derek Helms, 28, has insisted on Facebook posts that he is innocent. He has accused law enforcement agencies of corruption in two counties. He’s even sent out messages about places he’s visited, recently thanking his hosts in Oakboro for their hospitality at a fireworks show.
Investigators say that Helms was involved in a “complex case” of alleged domestic violence, they told the Observer’s news partner WBTV.
The social media dust-up started Tuesday, when the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office posted Helms’ photo on its Facebook page, noting he is being sought for charges of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree rape. The post has since been shared more than 1,700 times.
Six hours after the initial post, Helms left a response to the sheriff’s office on its Facebook page: “Truth coming out bfor long vindictive and spitfullness and some croked cops.”
The department came back on Facebook within two minutes with a warning: “Derek Helms you need to turn yourself in.”
Helms hasn’t. In fact, he has continued posting on his own Facebook page, including a message Wednesday that read: “God strike me dead as i set here typing this i didn't do this.” He has also accused law enforcement in Cabarrus and Stanly counties on Facebook of being “crooked.”
Helms’ decision to comment on his own arrest warrant has drawn both support and disbelief on the sheriff’s Facebook site: “Did that just happen?” asked Crystal Dawn Wise Lash.
“This dude comments on a post about his rape warrants. Got some big kahunas,” wrote Patrick Driscoll.
“This is hilarious!!” wrote Taylor Eddleman Carter on Facebook.
Others are coming to Helms’ defense with their own accusations of injustice and law enforcement wrong-doing.
“Derek Helms did not in NO WAY rape or kidnap ANYONE because i was with him and his kids the hole weekend that he is being charged with,” posted Spencer Mason. “I do respect our law enforcement, but this right here makes me loose a bunch for our local community and surrounding. I have never felt so much negative emotions towards our law enforcement than i do about this.”
“FB just blocked my Justice for Derek post!” said Amber Green. “I’m starting to see we alone in spreading the truth! Even Facebook is blocking.”
“I don’t agree with the way law enforcement can convict a person on social media before u even go to court,” posted Aaron Hyatt.
Authorities say Helms is a Stanly County resident but they are not sure whether he is still in North Carolina. He may be driving a silver or gray four-door 2005 Mercedes, authorities say.
Cabarrus Sheriff Brad Riley declined Thursday to comment on Helms’ accusations of law enforcement corruption.
“We’ve had people elude arrest before. But the fact that he has used social media as a way of saying ‘Here I am’ is different,” said Riley.
“The reality of it all is, this is not going away. And we’ll be using social media, too, to find him. My message to him is: Turn yourself in. Right, wrong or indifferent, the (arrest warrant) papers are not going anywhere. It’s easier to be cooperative, than having us find you and bring you in.”
Anyone with information concerning Helms is asked to contact the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office at 704-920-3000 or the Cabarrus Area Crime Stoppers at 704-932-7463 or www.cabarruscrimestoppers.com if you wish to remain anonymous.