Friday, June 12, 2015

Authorities Confirm Man Sought in Windsor Shooting Kills Himself

Valley News shared a link.
 By Rob Wolfe
Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, June 12, 2015
(Published in print: Friday, June 12, 2015) 
Windsor — Authorities confirmed Thursday that the man found dead after a high-speed car chase Wednesday in Kansas was Jason Kendall, the Windsor man accused in the shooting death of his former girlfriend earlier this week.

Vermont State Police said Kendall, 27, died of a self-inflicted gunshot from the same rifle that was used to shoot Molly Helland outside her parents’ Windsor home on Monday.

Newly unsealed court documents indicate that Helland, 23, planned to go to court to seek a restraining order against Kendall on the day she was killed.

Wednesday evening’s fatal encounter began when highway patrolmen attempted to pull over a speeding Kendall on Interstate 70 in western Kansas, according to a police news release. Kendall’s 1996 Honda Accord was clocked driving 87 mph in a 75 mph zone, the release said, and speeds during the ensuing 11-mile pursuit reached 105 mph before troopers deployed spike strips, causing Kendall’s car to cross the median and crash through a fence. It was after the chase that Kendall shot himself, authorities said.
Initially, a uthorities were not able to definitively identify the driver as Kendall, but a physical description including tattoos, height, weight and build matched the Windsor suspect. 

On Thursday, Vermont authorities helped confirm Kendall’s identity by sharing fingerprints and other information with police in Kansas.

 Also Thursday, Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen filed to release affidavits that had been sealed until Kendall was apprehended. Considering Kendall’s demise, the second-degree murder charge against him likely will be dismissed and the case against him closed, Kainen said.
Kendall’s father, Rick Kendall, told investigators that he saw his son shortly before 7 a.m. on Monday, when Jason Kendall drove away from the family home in a silver Honda Accord. Kendall’s gun safe was later found to be missing a .243 caliber Remington bolt-action rifle, according to an affidavit.

At 7 a.m., Windsor police responded to a report of screams and gunshots at Helland’s home and found her lying next to her car with wounds to her chest and neck. Helland was pronounced dead at 7:14, though a state death certificate, written based on autopsy results, indicated that Helland died within seconds.

Witnesses quoted in the affidavit saw the silver Honda speeding along the railroad tracks behind the house, and investigators found a spent .243 caliber shell casing nearby. 

The affidavits paint a picture of an increasingly volatile relationship in which Kendall’s attempts to preserve a fraying bond with Helland became violent. 

Witnesses said that Kendall had threatened Helland with a gun as she attempted to move out of his apartment on Friday, three days before her death, according to the affidavit. One woman told state troopers she had received a phone call Friday night from Helland, who said Kendall had put a gun to her head during a car ride and said he would kill her and himself if they ran into police, but Helland persuaded Kendall to drop her off at her parents’ home. Kendall also had thrown knives and lit cigarettes at her about a month ago, according to the affidavit.

Another witness, a friend of Kendall’s, told police that Kendall “doesn’t like being sober because he can’t control his emotions when sober.”

In Helland’s room, detectives found handwritten letters from Kendall to Helland and her parents, dated roughly two weeks apart in May, that pleaded with both parties for forgiveness and indicated he wished to rekindle the relationship. Examination of Kendall’s phone records showed that he made similar attempts with Helland via text message.

The couple had a 2-year-old son together who is staying with Helland’s family. On the floor of Kendall’s room at his father’s home was a note that read: “Everything I own belongs to my son Jason Kendall Jr. Now the suffering for both of us can be over. We both didn’t want this but hopefully you’ll (sic) can do the best you can do for our son. Thanks Andy. Good Luck Kirsten, Mom, Dad, Sarah, Scott. I love you Molly, with all my heart.”

At their home on Main Street Thursday afternoon, Helland’s parents declined to comment. 

Rick Kendall said his heart went out to Helland’s family.

“I realize it’s a very heinous crime that my son did,” he said in his yard on Route 5 south of town, where a number of friends and family members had gathered. “Molly was a very, very wonderful, caring mother.” 

The car found in Kansas was registered to Rick Kendall and bore two different license plates, both of which police said were stolen from Holyoke, Mass., on Monday.

A Thursday news release said that the investigation into Helland’s death and Kendall’s effort to avoid capture was still underway, but Vermont State Police Capt. J.P. Sinclair of the criminal investigations unit said police don’t have evidence of any other suspects in the shooting or that individuals may have helped Kendall to flee.

Staff writer Maggie Cassidy contributed to this story. Rob Wolfe can be reached at or 603-727-3242.


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