INCIDENT: PC 187 – Update – Cold Case Homicide Investigation
LOCATION: 19000 block Highway 18, Apple Valley
SUSPECT: Robert Eugene Wortman, Deceased, Resident of Apple Valley
VICTIM: Helen Margaret Brooks, 63-years-old at time of death, Resident of Apple Valley
Investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Detail – Cold Case Unit along with investigators from the FBI – Riverside Office have solved the 37-year-old cold case of Helen Brooks.
On July 5, 1985, Brooks was found murdered inside her apartment in Apple Valley after friends and co-workers became alarmed because she had not been heard from in a few days. Investigators collected DNA evidence from the scene but were limited to the DNA technology of the time and did not identify a suspect.
During the investigation, investigators learned 37-year-old Robert Eugene Wortman met Brooks in the days prior to her murder and returned to Brooks’ apartment between July 3rd and July 5th. At the time, Wortman was interviewed by investigators, but he claimed he had no knowledge of Brooks’ murder and denied he went into her apartment. At the time, investigators were unable to prove Wortman was involved in Brooks’ murder.
Over the years, several interviews and polygraph tests were conducted but the case remained unsolved.
In 2009, cold case detectives re-examined the case and submitted items for DNA testing. A suspect DNA profile was developed but did not match anyone in the DNA database.
In 2021, Cold Case Homicide Investigators, partnered with the FBI – Riverside Office, re-opened the case and requested an additional analysis of the suspect’s DNA profile. Through additional investigation and advancements in DNA technology, Wortman was identified as the suspect in Brooks’ murder.
Wortman had an extensive sexually violent criminal history and died in prison in 1995 while serving a 22-year sentence on an unrelated rape case in San Bernardino County.
Refer: Detective Arturo Alvarado or Sergeant Justin Giles
Station: Specialized Investigations Division – Homicide Detail
Phone No. (909) 387-3589
Case No. DR# 071331490 H#1985-068
SHANNON D. DICUS, Sheriff-Coroner
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department