Helmut Fragstein is a strong individual who deserves a great deal of respect. Not only because of the loss of his beloved soulmate, Elvia, but because he continues to support her ever single day since she was brutally murdered.
The Fragstein case is pretty well known at this point. Currently, two teens from Pine Bluff are charged with capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and theft of property following her July 2018 abduction. Nearly one year has passed since she was taken from Helmut, and he holds onto her memory dearly.
Earlier this week, there was a great deal of testimony regarding the younger of the two teens’ upbringing and some of the facts surrounding the case. Helmut was present for the entirety of the juvenile transfer hearing. I don’t think he would have been anywhere else.
“It’s just so tragic,” he told me. Yet, he continues to attend each and every single hearing regarding his wife’s case. I asked him why recently. Why put yourself through so much torment. But, he doesn’t see it that way.
It’s painful, sure, he said. However, that is his wife and he owes it to her to be there in support of who she was and is.
Such a beautiful and inspiring relationship was shared between Helmut and his dear Elvia. The bond is still clear today.
The first time I met Helmut was at the first appearance hearing for Robert Smith III, who was 16 at the time, and his cousin, Tacori D. Mackrell, who was 18, in Conway District Court on July 18, 2018. He and other family members sat together, hand-in-hand as they anxiously awaited to hear what the bond for these boys would be set at.
He was somewhat relieved to learn they were to be held without bond.
But not court order could take away the pain he will forever feel. With each day that passes, Helmut remembers his wife’s smile and the last kiss they shared before she disappeared forever.
I remember standing outside of the court building with him. He shared a story of how the couple met in Spain and described Elvia as “the most gently, generous, compassionate person that you could ever meet.”
“If Elvia ever walked on grass and it bent, she will go back and straighten the grass because she is such an angel,” he said.
Now, he has taken it upon himself to continue supporting his wife. He also keeps other family members and close friends updated as the teens’ cases progress.
With each hearing, he is accompanied by several family and close friends. During the most recent juvenile transfer hearing that was held in Faulkner County Circuit Court, Helmut sat behind Prosecutor Carol Crews and Deputy Prosecutor John Hout with five close friends, a few of them he said he met in his years with the Master Gardeners.
For those who are unable to attend the hearings, he sends typed copies of notes and articles published about the matter. For many of his family, he has to translate these pieces in Spanish and German. While he says he is not the best typist, he said he will continue doing so until the matter is over.
Dedicated. Helmut is very dedicated. He is also very loved.
If ever you meet him, ask him to share the story of how he and Elvia met. It’s very beautiful and it’s very clear they almost instantly fell in love.