• Questioning ongoing in case of Tennessee dad gunned down chasing car break-in suspects

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Police are asking for the community's assistance as they continue to investigate the murder of a Bellevue dad, who was gunned down while chasing car break-in suspects.

    Erik Helffenstein, 45, was killed while chasing suspects outside his home along Meadow Ridge Circle near Nashville, back in Oct. 29.

    Now, police are questioning two people in connection to the investigation and are seeking more information on their criminal activities.


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    Cordarius Smith, 22, and Lavonta Blanch, 23, are both already behind bars on unrelated charges.

    On the morning of the murder, police said Helffenstein saw people breaking into neighborhood cars and got in his car to chase the suspects.

    At some point near the 7000 block of Highway 100, police said someone in a dark Nissan Rogue shot through a passenger window, striking Helffenstein. The victim's car crashed and came to a rest in a field.

    The Nissan Rogue was found to be stolen out of Mt. Juliet just hours before the murder. The keys to the Rogue were taken during a home burglary. 

    Several hours after the murder, police said credit cards stolen from the Mt. Juliet home were used at the Kroger at 711 Gallatin Avenue. 

    Smith and Blanch were identified as the men with the stolen credit cards. 

    Smith is presently jailed in Nashville on unrelated aggravated assault charges and is facing aggravated burglary charges in Wilson County for stealing the Rogue. Blanch is jailed in Wilson County in an unrelated robbery case. 

    Police said both men have been questioned, but neither inmate has provided substantial information in the murder case.

    Anyone with information about the criminal activities of Smith and/or Blanch, particularly during the late October 2018 timeframe, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.

    Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

    Police have since recovered the stolen Rogue abandoned two days after the murder in the parking area of the Highlands at the Lake Apartments on Arbor Lake Boulevard in Hermitage. It is continuing to be tested for evidence.

    Neighbors previously told FOX 17 News that Helffenstein was married with two children and was a "family man." Neighbors said Helffenstein was an engineer and would often make go-karts for kids in the area.

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