Boone Helm–Wild West Serial Killer

Nickname–The Kentucky Cannibal

I give a speech where I talk about ‘Where do you get your ideas.”

The answer is usually…from research.

I’m researching a current book and I run across weird tidbits that give me chills or make my eyes go wide, or make me ask, “Did this REALLY happen?”

Such is the reaction I got when I read about Boone Helm. The Kentucky Cannibal. Serial Killer of the Wild West. YIKES.

He got his nickname for, and I quote, “His opportunistic and unrepentant (I don’t know who I’m quoting you understand, who said this???) consumption of human flesh.

He came from, by all reports, a fine family (but there must’ve been SOMETHING, yeesh!) Maybe not. Maybe he was just bad!!!

He was from a family of twelve children, so that’s a BIG family but, being from a family of eight, I like to think large families and murderous insanity don’t necessarily go hand in hand. (I hope! So far so good!)

Married at age twenty, by age twenty-two he was divorced in an era that did not make that easy. His wife being regularly beaten must’ve helped. Boone Helm’s FATHER paid for the divorce so the wife must’ve had some sympathy. In retrospect she was probably lucky to get out of the marriage ALIVE. And they had a daughter. WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO HAVE HIM FOR A FATHER???

Helm abandoned his family (thank you Jesus!) and pretty much cut a swath of robbery and murder across the west for the next thirteen years. He was twice convicted and sentenced to death only to escape through once, feigning madness (although who knows, he probably was mad, but still that doesn’t mean you don’t watch him closely right???) And once by convincing his brother to pay off a scad of witnesses…buy their silence.

After which he went home with his brother and then set out killing and robbing again. He boasted of the men he’d eaten to outlaw friends. Including once eating a man’s leg, then cutting off his other leg because he had a long journey and needed food.

OKAY that wasn’t my point really, I just found him such a ghastly character I had to write about him but….I’m toying with the idea of having him be a bad guy for a book. Or a fictionalized, slightly less hideous version because in this case, I seriously can’t handle the truth.

What do you think? What if I have a heroine and this guy is her father. Hoone Belm’s daughter!!! What if you were little Letitia Belm and you headed west only to find your long gone father is the most notorious, vicious criminal ever to roam the frontier?

Is it too much?

Like I said, I’m just toying with it. But wow, what a lunatic. What a character. How could you live it down?

She needs to marry a lawman, huh? That’d be a fine conflict between them.

Anyway, where do ideas come from? It’s from stuff I read like this.

What’s the craziest REAL LIFE character you’ve ever heard of. In this case, mine is one of those…what’s that saying? I’m fumbling for it. Something like…Fiction is harder than a true story, because fiction has to make sense.

I’ve updated my website and I really love it. Go have a look if you’ve a mind to. Mary’s Website

Let’s talk crazy characters!!!


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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

24 thoughts on “Boone Helm–Wild West Serial Killer”

  1. Good morning Mary. I think your idea would be an excellent book. I love murder mysteries. I would not want to tangle with Mr. Helm.
    Here in Hugoton, KS where I live, about 10 or so years ago, a young man who graduated from school here one night lost it and stabbed his Mom over 50 or so times before turning himself in. He’s in prison now with out parole. I am not sure, but I think he’s in a mental hospital part of the prison system. Many of my employee’s at the time had went to school with him all of their lives. They were in total shock over the entire situation.

    • Tonya, you know this kid who killed his mom is the very definition of a person who is a danger to society. He needs to stay locked up just because he’s got that madness and evil inside him.

      • Mary, I agree, he should NEVER be let out. So scary, Very scary. It happened about 9 blocks from where I live. To close for comfort in this little 4000 person town.

  2. Great blog! What a vile, evil man Boone was! Thanks for sharing! I love a good murder mystery and I must admit I’m drawn toward books about a serial killer and what may have made them that way. I believe most of them were just born evil because where they came from doesn’t seem to hold bearing to how they turned out. I just read a story about the Florida Highway Patrolman that was suspected of being a serial killer even though he was only ever convicted of one rape and murder. He used his badge to pull woman over and force them to have sex or at the least gradify him in the other way. He was a charming man when it came to luring woman in. He was very mentally abusive to his wife and girlfriend but neither of them could believe he was a murder and forced himself on other woman. I can’t quite figure out how you’d tie him into one of your romantic comedies that include cowboys, as I see your genre is listed. The hero or heroine being the daughter of the character or the hero is a lawman after the character and the heroine ends up along for the ride would be two approaches though. I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books.

    • The only thing that made me wonder was his brother coming to save him, pay off witnesses. You’d think the brother would have wanted him locked up, too. The fact that he jumped in with his own money to get his brother out. Well, sure, he’s your brother, but still…made me wonder just how evil his brother was.

    • I suppose serial killers aren’t a modern invention. Jack the Ripper after all. but was this guy really a serial killer? Or just a guy who killed without mercy when he was committing a crime.
      That’s different than a serial killer. All sorts of questions.

  3. I never heard of this man. But I did read a story where the hero was the son of a serial killer. I think it would make a great story. thanks so much for this.

  4. Interesting post and I am not sure I like the mans name at all, you find them everywhere I guess.

  5. Great post, Mary! It just goes to show you the these things didn’t just start happening in modern times today! They’ve been around a long time! Still, it’s gross! I’ve often thought of immediate family members having to deal with the fallout of serial killers as their relatives. Must be so hard. No wonder so many change their names!

  6. Oh, my goodness, Mary! He was definitely a horrible person! The things we dig up while doing research. 🙂 Great blog post, though. And I love your new look on your website! So nice!

  7. Oh for Pete’s sake! That is one nasty character. No need to do any more research on him. I’d be afraid of what I’d find!

  8. Welcome. I love research. But OH MY GOODNESS. I like the idea of the daughter going west and finding out about her father, and the lawman there is a compassionate man who wants to protect and defend her. Cant wait to see what you come up with. Have fun with it. It will write itself.

  9. Go for it and write the book. The daughter would certainly fi d out why her parents were not together and might even wonder if she had “tainted blood” in her veins.
    There have been several cases in our area the past few years that really make you wonder about people. In one, an elderly man, his wife, and her aunt befriended a young couple who were 19. Several yaears later, authorities found the dismembered bodies of the young couple in 50 gallon drums in a storage unit downtown. The 3 people on their 60’s and 70’s were convicted of murder and abuse of a corpse. They looked like sweet grandparents. The man keeps appealing his conviction. I never have heard of any motive for the killings. In another instance, a woman got upset that a neighbor unfriended her on Facebook. She, her husband, and parents conspired and murdered the woman and her husband. The couple was found shot to death with their 1 year old crawling through the blood and lying near his mom. All 4 were convicted of murder. What a senseless crime. There are way too many like these in this and other parts of the country.

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