Robert David Helphrey served in the U.S. Army and drove a Bradley Fighting Vehicle during the initial advance into Iraq during Desert Storm. Robert would later go missing from Palm Harbor, Florida on May 22, 2006 after meeting friends at a local Irish Pub for about an hour.
Upon returning from his deployment to Iraq, Robert’s 20 year old sister Debbie Helphrey, went into cardiac arrest at his welcome home party. Three days after the welcome home party, his sister would be declared brain dead. It was later determined that his sister’s cardiac arrest was the result of an herbal tea which she had been drinking nightly for several months. This death gained national attention and the family was profiled on 60 minutes and 20/20, both popular television shows. The attention from the press and the constant presence of media personnel “camped out” in front of the Helphrey house, compounded with Robert Helphrey’s experiences during Desert Storm, led to Robert Helphrey having sleep problems. Since returning from Desert Storm, and following the death of his sister, Robert grew nervous and uneasy, but he never let his personal issues affect his work and always showed up for work on time.
On May 22, 2006, when Robert Helphrey failed to show for his shift at the Thirsty Marlin, his being an hour late for work was so unlike him that the manager of the Thirsty Marlin went to Robert’s house to check on him, later phoning his parents to tell them that Robert did not show for work and he did not see Robert’s car at his house.
The night before he failed to show for his shift, on May 21, 2006, Robert Helphrey was working as the general manager at the Thirsty Marlin. Business was slow at the Thirsty Marlin, so he closed the bar around 12:30 AM on the morning of May 22, 2006. Robert later joined two co-workers for a few drinks at Peggy O’Neills, an Irish Pub and Eatery located across the street from the Thirsty Marlin. After about an hour, Robert told his coworkers that he was heading home and drove off in his SUV toward his apartment on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor, Florida. Robert Helphrey and his vehicle were never seen again.
At around 1:55 AM on May 22. 2006, Robert Helphrey called his friend Zach Taylor and told him that he was heading home and asked if Zach wanted to stop by the his house. This was not unusual for Robert who would often stay up playing cards and computer games. Around 2:15 AM, Zach says that he knocked on the door of Robert’s residence and he heard the dog barking, but Robert did not answer the door. Zach said that he figured that Robert had just gone to sleep and Zach left the area.
Robert Helphrey has two daughters whose ages at the time of his disappearance were 8 and 3. Robert’s family says that even though Robert may not have been “an angel by any means”, he never failed to spend to spend time with his daughters who lived with different girlfriends. The family, already knowing what it feels like to lose a child, kept up hope. It was later learned that Robert Helphrey’s vehicle license plate was run through a computer by a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper in Tampa, Florida on May 24, 2006, but there there no notes as to who exactly ran the report and why. Robert Helphrey’s SUV has not been located and his cell phone and bank accounts have not been used since his disappearance.
Robert Helphrey was 38 years old when he went missing in 2006. Robert is 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and weighed approximately 220 to 230 pounds at the time he went missing. Robert has blonde/strawberry hair and blue eyes. The vehicle that Robert was last seen driving is a 2005 gray in color Mitsubishi Outlander hatchback with Florida license plate G83NYD.
If you have any information about the whereabouts of Robert David Helphrey, contact the Pinellas County Sheriffs Office, Homicide Detective Michael Bailey at 727-582-5808 reference case # 06-141210. (NamUs MP # 2947)
Florida State Missing Person Bulletin: http://pas.fdle.state.fl.us/pas/person/viewMissingPerson-111788513.a