Tampa Cold Case Murders

Florida Cold Case 2012: Two Sisters Murdered In Their Tampa Home

TAMPA, FL. – The 2012 double murder of two sisters remains a cold case in Tampa, and your help is needed to bring the person(s) responsible for these murders to justice.

On April 12, 2012, Tampa Police say 54-year-old Vickie Sterling and her sister, 62-year-old Linda Helms, were shot to death inside the home they shared along the 800 block of Lotus Avenue in North Tampa.

The victims had shared the home for about 10 years, according to reports,

Nine years later, Ben Kowalewski, the son of Linda Helms wants answers, “My mother and my aunt lived together and helped each other out because my mother was sick with Sjogren’s Syndrome an immune disorder, and Vickie was in school.”

Ben says he can’t sleep at night, imagining his mother’s and aunt’s final moments.

“The fear they must have felt, knowing that they were going to die,” he said.

In 2015, three years after the murders, Ben took to social media to call out for help and voice his frustrations:

“On April 12 2012 my mother and my aunt (Linda Helms and Vickie Sterling) were found murdered in the home that they shared. Three years later the person that stole them from us is still walking free. I feel that the system has failed us. We all know who did this unthinkable crime but for some reason, all we get are roadblocks to an arrest. I’m just sickened at this point. Now the lead Det is getting ready to retire and my biggest fear is that the case will slip away into a “cold case” file and I know that no one will take an interest, in this case, the way that Sgt. M has. My family and I are crushed.”

Tampa Police responded to the public post saying:

“Ben, first know that we are so sorry for the loss of your mother and aunt. We take each murder case personally and as long as there are workable leads, they will be followed until there is nothing left. So it isn’t a cold case. We maintain the case and anytime there is any type of correlation we work it just as diligently as we did on the first days of the offense. There are times where people may be suspects, but the probable cause does not exist for an arrest….YET. Those cases are continuously monitored for any associations regarding the suspect. While the original detective assigned to your case was an excellent homicide investigator, these cases are never worked alone. The other detectives who worked on the case will continue to do so. Our primary focus at TPD is to find justice and resolution for each family that bears the tragedy of a murdered victim. We will not forget about them.”

Nine years later, Ben told The Free Press that the detective who was in charge of the case, as well as the assistant DA that was handling the case, were “100% sure” who committed these murders, but that the case was “too circumstantial” to move forward with an arrest.

Ben and his family wait for answers and justice.

An online memorial for Linda Helms and Vickie Sterling echos what these two ladies meant to many.

Ben Kowalewski: “Mommy, I am so proud that you are my mother! I know that you are in Heaven watching over me. I am so glad that we got to spend Easter together and talk about the things we talked about. It gives me great comfort knowing that you were truly saved! May the light of your beautiful soul always serve as a guide to my boys, Kyle, and I! I love you so much and will miss you until the day we meet in heaven!”

Beverly Kowalewski: “You were a wonderful person here on earth! An awesome grandmother to my children. You are in a much better place now and I hope you are enjoying spending time with your mom and dad again! We miss you here but we will be glad when we can see you again! Please keep an eye on everyone! They need you!”

Aileen Valdez: “I’m very sorry that you had to leave us the way you did. You will be missed my thoughts and prayers are with your family. May God be with you. To the family members, I was a co-worker of Linda worked with for years.”

Tiana: “Mama, I’ve loved and adored you since the day I was born. I’m so broken-hearted that you’ve been robbed away from me. You were an angel in disguise that has molded me into the person I am today. You have given me strength, made me have independence, and always taught me to have a lighter heart and to forgive. You were always a shining light in the room, made everyone fall in love with your laugh and your beauty naturally awed everyone that ever came in contact with you. I will miss you forever and will never forget the day you were taken from us all. I love you so much and I’m so terribly sad that you won’t be able to be a grandmother to my babies one day. I cherish each and every memory I have with you and will lock them away in my heart forever. I love you, mom. Your loving and adoring daughter, T-Bird.”

Ben Kowalewski: “Aunt Vickie, I love you so much! You are such a bright soul. Thank you for always being there for the boys and I! You always made me laugh with your amazing sense of humor. Nick and Zach adored you. I’m so glad that we have grown closer over this past year! I love you so much! Miss you, until we meet again in heaven! Proud of what you have become auntie!”

Carla Berdasco: “To Tiana’s Mom; thank you for raising such a beautiful girl, Tiana, and showing her your light to guide her through the rest of her years. Show her you are with her, even if as an angel, so that she may gather strength in the coming years, where your lack of physical presence will be hard for her at times, to bear. I promise to always be there for her, along with her family and her other friends. Carla.”

In bringing this case back to the forefront, the hope is that someone that knows something will come forward to help Ben and his family have the closure that they deserve and that Vickie and Linda get the justice that they deserve.

Ben supplied The Free Press with multiple photos of his Mom and Aunt that we have included below.

If you have any information about this unsolved case please contact the Tampa Police Department Unsolved Homicides Unit at (813) 898-1435 and reference Case# Vickie Sterling/Linda Helms 2012-205356.

Linda Helms (L) And Vickie Sterling (R)

Bruce Helms And Wife Linda Helms

Linda Helms

Vickie Sterling

If you have any information about this unsolved case please contact the Tampa Police Department Unsolved Homicides Unit at (813) 898-1435 and reference Case# Vickie Sterling/Linda Helms 2012-205356.

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