Details of Disappearance
Martha was last seen in Bridgewater, Virginia at approximately 12:00 p.m. on August 3, 1973. She was accompanied by her sister, Flora, and Flora's employer, John Keyton, at the time. They were driving Keyton's light green 1967 Ford Fairlane 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.
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.