Last week an Idaho mother was charged with attempting to inject bleach into her 10-year-old daughter. Brooke Helmandollar was found nearly 400 miles away with her daughter after an Amber Alert was issued in multiple states. New details provided by KREM in Spokane highlight the severity of the charges against her.
On March 20, 2019, Nampa, Idaho police issued an Amber Alert for Alissa Helmandollar. Her mother had taken Alissa. Authorities believed that Brooke planned to take the girl to Portland, Oregon. The first Amber Alert was issued in Oregon, then in Washington, and finally in Idaho.
Even though Brooke maintained custody of her daughter, authorities learned she had made numerous threats to Alissa. Her threats began on March 12, 2019. Brooke called Alissa’s school and told them that she was pulling her out.
When the mother arrived at the school, the school staff noticed that plastic covered the seats of her car. Staff asked her about the plastic, and Brooke told her that their home was infested with parasites and insects. Brooke told the staff that Alissa and she were staying in a hotel because of the infestation.
Concerned by Brooke’s troubling behavior, the school contacted authorities. Police contacted Brooke’s husband Jonathan, and he denied an infestation of parasites at the apartment.
Instead, Jonathan said his wife suffered from mental health issues. Additionally, he hoped to admit her to a rehab facility to deal with her problems. Jonathan denied knowing anything about his daughter’s location and told police that she was at the motel.
Her husband went on to say that he believed a combination of prescription drugs caused Brooke’s erratic behavior. However, police learned through their investigation that Brooke tested positive for methamphetamine in November 2018 and was a known marijuana user.
When no one was able to locate Alissa or Brooke, police issued an Amber Alert on March 20. The Amber Alert worked because an individual spotted Brooke’s car in Cheney, Washington. Cheney Police found Brooke and Alissa parked outside of a restaurant.
When police found Alissa, she appeared unharmed. Authorities placed Alissa in foster care in Spokane County with Child Protective Services.
During her interview with police, Brooke admitted that she was suffering from multiple health issues. She told them that she believed that parasites and bugs infested her body. Thinking she had parasites, Brooke said she went to the doctor for help. However, she said doctors did not take her concerns seriously.
In an effort to rid Alissa and herself of the parasites, she planned to drink charcoal, take enemas, and inject bleach to kill them.
Shortly after the police interviewed the mother, they took her to Sacred Heart Medical Center for a mental health evaluation. While she received treatment for her mental illnesses, police requested a search warrant from Spokane County Superior Court to review her digital information.
Initially, police weren’t confident if any charges would be filed. However, text messages and data found on Brooke’s social media prompted criminal charges. Also, police learned through text messages that Brooke’s husband lied to authorities about his daughter’s whereabouts.
When police issued the Amber Alert on March 20, they interviewed Brooke’s husband, Jonathan Helmandollar. During the interview, Jonathan seemed unconcerned about his daughter’s safety. Additionally, he told police that the fact that his wife and daughter were missing, “wouldn’t look good for him.”
Text messages from March 19-20 showed that Jonathan and Brooke were in constant communication. Court records obtained by KREM showed that Jonathan signed a safety agreement that prevented Brooke from caring for Alissa without supervision. Despite signing the contract, he said Brooke convinced him the plan was only enforceable if a court ordered it.
Instead of being truthful with police during Alissa’s disappearance, Jonathan did his best to cover-up his involvement. When police learned Jonathan lied about multiple aspects of Alissa’s disappearance, they began investigating him for child endangerment.
Because both parents appeared involved in her disappearance, Washington State took custody of Alissa. She remains in the care of Child Protective Services in Spokane County.
Brooke remains at Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital and is receiving care for mental health issues. KREM reports that she was charged with felony second-degree criminal mistreatment of a child. According to Washington statutes, the charge carries a sentence of 6-12 months in prison.Despite the charge, I have been unable to locate any arrest information or court details. The fact that Brooke remains hospitalized for her mental health issues could be a reason that no records exist.
Multiple mental illnesses can cause individuals to believe they are infested with parasites and insects. Delusional parasitosis is a psychotic illness characterized by the unshaken belief that the body is infested with parasites. Individuals that suffer from the delusion can develop the disorder in three ways.
The disorder can exist independent of any other illnesses. In these cases, people are classified as having monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis. For the second group, the condition can be a symptom of another mental illness like schizophrenia, depression, or dementia.
Finally, the third group can develop the illness form organic illnesses. Individuals in this group may have disorders like hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, cocaine intoxication, and methamphetamine intoxication.
In Brooke’s case, we know she tested positive for methamphetamine. Additionally, her husband admitted that he wanted her to go to rehab for her drug issues.
In 2003, court records state Brooke was convicted of a felony in Idaho for possession of methamphetamine. She served around four years in prison after violating her probation multiple times. During her previous incarceration, Brooke received treatment for mental health issues.
For years, Brooke has suffered from drug addiction and mental illness. Despite her recent positive drug test in November, her husband allowed Brooke to take Alissa out of state.
Jonathan should have taken steps to help secure his daughter, and he failed her. Instead of her family caring for her safety, Alissa’s school and police were the only people concerned about her well-being.
Thankfully, the school stepped in and reported Brooke’s erratic behavior. Without their report, there is no way to know what could have happened to Alissa.
Clearly, Brooke needs mental health help. Hopefully, through this court case, Brooke can get the help she needs. What seems clear based on the details is neither parent is responsible or fit to care for Alissa. As the court case plays out, the parents could lose custody.
What is most troubling is that Jonathan is a teacher. He works as a high school health teacher. As a teacher, Jonathan is a mandated reporter and is supposed to report any abuse he witnesses. The fact that he works with children each day makes his lack of concern for his daughter even more atrocious.
Hopefully, Alissa will be able to find support and services to manage this tough time. No child should have to suffer because of their parent’s negligent and irresponsible choices.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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