John Edwin Keyton

Keyton, circa 1973

  • Missing Since 08/03/1973
  • Missing From Bridgewater, Virginia
  • Classification Lost/Injured Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Age 81 years old
  • Height and Weight Unknown
  • Medical Conditions Keyton is a dependent adult.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Light green 1967 Ford Fairlane (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Keyton goes by the nickname Ed. His left leg is missing. Keyton is illiterate.

Details of Disappearance

Keyton was last seen driving his light green 1967 Ford Fairlane in Bridgewater, Virginia at approximately 12:00 p.m. on August 3, 1973. He was accompanied by his housekeeper, Flora Helmick, and Flora's sister, Martha, at the time. They were driving to a family reunion at the home of Keyton's brother in Dabolt, Kentucky; the event was scheduled for the following day.

Keyton and the Helmick sisters never arrived. Keyton was not a good driver in 1973. He had been in at least one accident and received many traffic citations. His driver's license had been taken from him, but he continued to drive.

Keyton served in the armed forces in World War I and won medals for heroism, but lost his left leg in battle. He was mentally affected by the war and had a reputation as an eccentric. Keyton was ruled incompetent by Rockingham Circuit Court in 1932 and a committee, or guardian, was appointed to look after his affairs. Keyton's committee in 1973 stated he would frequently leave the area without telling anyone. Sometimes during these absences he would visit relatives in Ohio.

In 2016, the remains of the trio's car was found inside the Kentucky River, near the Kentucky River Valley Ferry. Martha's body was found inside it and was identified in 2021. There was no indication of the whereabouts of Flora, or of Keyton, but investigators believe all three were killed after accidentally driving into the river.

Investigating Agency

  • Bridgewater Police Department 540-828-2611

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 28, 2021; details of disappearance updated.