Helen Hill Will Not Be Forgotten

January 5th, 2007 by Editor B

Yesterday morning a friend of mine was murdered. Those are some words I never wanted to type, never thought I would type, words I still can’t really believe.

If you ever met Helen, she was a friend of yours too. I believe she befriended everyone she met. If you never met her, well, now you never will, and that makes me so sad I can barely stand it.

She was, quite simply, the nicest person I’ve ever met. I’m not exaggerating. She was so nice you thought it wasn’t real, that maybe she was putting on an act. But she was for real.

Besides being a kind, sweet, gentle and happy person, Helen was also a creative genius, a talented artist, a maker of animated films. That’s how I first met her. We both had work in a show in Shreveport, curated by Courtney Egan, and we shared a ride on the way back to New Orleans. That was six years ago.

Since then I’d always hoped to collaborate with Helen more, and now I will never have the chance. The closest I got was a segment for ROX #90, wherein we had a good vegan lunch with Paul & Helen and their pet pig Rosie. You can watch it if you like. That was three years ago. It was shot at their home on Cleveland & Clark in Mid-City.

Here’s a photograph of Helen & Xy. It’s not particularly glamorous, but it’s the only one I have.

Helen & Xy

This was taken a year ago, just before Mardi Gras, when they stopped by our house for a visit. Helen and Paul were still trying to get back to New Orleans then. There house was rendered uninhabitable by the flood. I believe Paul was a little skeptical. He wondered if coming back was the right thing. But Helen really wanted to return.

She loved this city.

It galls me that I have to use the past tense.

How could this happen? We live in a violent city. We often say, “It could happen to anyone,” but we also figure most of the murder victims and perpetrators are part of that big game of drug trade and blood feuds. Helen was not a part of that game. She was shot in her own home. Police aren’t speculating as to motive, but it was likely an attempted robbery. Knowing Paul and Helen as I do, it’s safe to assume they were not armed and would offer little resistance or threat to an invading robber. I can’t imagine they were targeted as individuals. I can only conclude that this was a case of collateral damage, a panicked kid with a gun and no respect for human life. In other words, completely senseless.

It’s tempting to think of this as a post-Katrina phenomenon, but that would be a mistake. We should not forget that in June of 2004, eight people were murdered in just over 24 hours. We cannot blame everything on Katrina. It is a societal problem.

It’s still shocking, appalling. A talented artist and a doctor gunned down in their own home with their child right there.

When I say “doctor” you might think they were rich, and thus a target for robbery. But Paul is like no doctor I’ve ever met. He has dedicated his professional life to helping with the poor. Trust me when I say they did not live an ostentatious life. They had nothing to steal.

How to respond? Should we give up on New Orleans and flee the city? Should we arm ourselves to the teeth? I’ve contemplated both options. But I believe that Helen would have wanted us to keep fighting for justice and a better city. If you are reading this in New Orleans, and you’re not actively involved in working for the future of this city, I challenge you to get involved, now. We are, quite literally, fighting for our lives.

Helen Hill had friends all over this city and the world. Creative people, politically engaged. Check Nola Nik for some pix and links. HelenHill.org is already in place with more to come. A march on City Hall is already being planned:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

It is time for our elected officials to face up to the violence that is strangling our neighborhoods.

Come march with us to City Hall to demand action Thursday, January 11

Marigny-Bywater residents and ALL concerned New Orleanians, please come to a planning meeting this Sunday, January 7 at 1pm at Sound Cafe (2700 Chartres St.)

More info: 504-948-0917

But I believe this is only the beginning. We will never forget you, Helen. We couldn’t forget you even if we wanted to. But we want to remember. Your life was too inspirational to be forgotten, your death too unfair.

We need to go place some flowers on their doorstep. I’ll close this entry with the article that appeared on the front page of today’s paper.

Killings bring the city to its bloodied knees
Husband, wife just two of 6 shot in 24 hours

Friday, January 05, 2007
By Brendan McCarthy
and Laura Maggi staff writers

In the sixth New Orleans murder in less than 24 hours, a woman was killed and her husband shot in their home Thursday about 5:30 a.m., said police, who found the bleeding man kneeling at the door of the couple’s Faubourg Marigny home, clutching their 2-year-old son.

The toddler was not hurt; the husband, 35, underwent surgery at Elmwood/Charity Trauma Center, police said. The woman, 36, was dead at the scene, police said. Friends identified the Marigny couple as Helen Hill, an animator and filmmaker, and Paul Gailiunas, a family doctor.

Including another murder on New Year’s Day, the latest violence brings the new year’s total to at least seven slayings in four days, though one of the apparent killings — a woman’s body found Wednesday rolled up in a throw rug on a Lower 9th Ward street — remains officially an unclassified death. In the past week, 12 people have been murdered in the city.

Police have not identified most of the victims and appear to have few leads in any of the cases.

The Marigny shootings — for which police offered no motive — capped a wave of bloodshed severe even by New Orleans standards, and came three days after Police Superintendent Warren Riley called a year-end news conference to put a positive spin on the 2006 murder total of 161, which he called the lowest in 30 years. On a per-capita basis, however, even the most optimistic projection of the post-Katrina city’s drastically shrunken population makes that figure an increase from previous years.

The style of the slayings — which in at least two cases took place with police officers stationed only blocks away — ranged from a single shot at point-blank range to a spray of 17 bullets. Some victims “had heroin in their hand and crack in their pocket,” said New Orleans Deputy Chief Steven Nicholas at a late morning news conference Thursday.

The killings appeared to have no particular geographic pattern, with the exception of two people killed on separate days near the same spot on Josephine Street, as victims fell in neighborhoods citywide, from the Lower 9th Ward to Marigny to Central City to Bayou St. John to Desire.

Stopping the violence

By Thursday morning, news of Gailiunas’ and Hill’s shootings had reached the Esplanade Pharmacy, which abuts the former Little Doctors Neighborhood Clinic, the sliding-scale doctors’ office that Gailiunas co-founded before the storm.

Staff there talked about Gailiunas’ devotion to his patients, many of whom were indigent. “He went out of his way for a lot of people, trying to make sure that they had their medicine, trying to find ways to pay for their medicine, and helping them get samples,” said pharmacist-in-charge Gwendolyn Charles, who has owned the corner pharmacy with her husband for 26 years.

Charles said she is appalled at the surge in violence and attributes it partly to people “who are coming home to the city with nothing for them to come home to.”

The violence won’t stop until everyone sees themselves and others as part of a larger community, she said.

“At this point, we all have to band together and do whatever we can do to help each other,” Charles said.

Riley, out of town Thursday with U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, was unavailable for comment, said his spokeswoman, Bambi Hall. Riley and Letten had attended a meeting or seminar in North Carolina with David Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

In a morning news conference, police offered few details on their investigations, with Lt. Joe Meisch, commander of the NOPD homicide division, saying he didn’t want to “taint” any of the probes. Police said they’ve gotten no help from witnesses, a long-standing problem in local murder investigations.

“At this moment, we don’t have one single witness to come forward. . . . We understand there is a risk associated with that,” Nicholas said. “But we need witnesses.”

“This is not CSI,” the deputy chief said. “You don’t solve crimes under the microscope.”

‘We are begging’

Nicholas said police know that people saw several of the killings, but didn’t say which ones.

“We are begging all members of the community to come forward,” he said.

At least two of the day’s shootings were retaliatory, and some involved the drug trade, police said. Nicholas cited “a culture, a certain population in this city intent on committing violent crime.”

Randall Thomas, 19, victim of a fatal shooting Jan. 3 in the 2500 block of LaSalle Street, has been identified as the killer of Corey Hayes, 28, who was the year’s first homicide victim. Hayes was killed in the 2300 of Fouth Street in Central City on New Year’s Day. Thomas was killed in retaliation for Hayes’ slaying, Meisch said, but police have not arrested or identified a suspect in Thomas’ shooting.

Darlene Cusanza, director of Crimestoppers, also pleaded for leads in the cases, and took the unusual step of raising the organization’s standard $2,500 reward to $3,500 for the next 48 hours.

“Enough is enough. This is an anonymous call,” she said, trying to soothe the fear of retaliation. “There’s no way to trace your identity.”

Asked about the spike in murders, Nicholas sought to portray New Orleans violence as part of a national trend. “Murder rates are up all over,” he said.

Historically, however, the city’s police and court system bring a small faction of those arrested to justice. Indeed, most offenders are never arrested, and only a tiny fraction of those who are arrested are ever convicted of a crime, according to recent studies.

Witnesses fear revenge

In New Orleans, the lack of reliable witnesses has long stymied murder probes, said Anthony Radosti, deputy director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. Many people fear street retaliation more than they trust the police’s ability to protect them, Radosti said.

“In certain areas of the city, people live under the gun,” he said.

The commission found that between October 2003 and September 2004, the system convicted just 12 percent of people arrested for murder or attempted murder — a figure that doesn’t include the cases in which police never make an arrest.

The poor conviction rate has remained constant through the years: Another MCC report that tracked New Orleans arrests from June 1999 to May 2000 found that only 13 percent of homicide arrests resulted in convictions.

The district attorney’s office and police need to work more closely with potential witnesses to make them feel comfortable coming forward, and establish better witness protection programs, Radosti said.

The spate of murders comes after a violent post-Katrina year, despite the significantly decreased population in the city, said Peter Scharf, a criminologist at the University of New Orleans.

Scharf noted that there were 161 murders in 2006, just one less than the all-time low of the past couple decades when the murder rate dipped to 162 in 1999.

But the population in New Orleans that year was about 460,000 people, compared to today’s numbers of anywhere from 181,000 to 230,000 people, the figures most often used in estimates of how many people have returned to live in the city.

If there are 220,000 people in New Orleans, the city had a 2006 per-capita murder rate of 73 per 100,000 people, said Scharf. That figure is destined to put the city near or at the top of national murder rate lists.

Riley has chafed at these comparisons, saying they are unfair because the city’s population is unknown. He believes the population is much higher than the popular estimates.

Little is known

Many of the recent shootings appeared to be of a variety that has become all too routine in the city. And most of those victims remain nameless, unidentified by police. The Marigny shootings appeared to be the exception — a seemingly settled and successful married couple, shot in their own home — and immediately drew a public outpouring of sadness and anger from their friends.

Police offered no theory on the killing of the woman and the shooting of her husband. Authorities supplied only this account:

On Thursday, shortly before 6 a.m., police responded to reports of a shooting at a shotgun double on the corner of North Rampart and Spain streets in the Marigny neighborhood. Just inside the front door, Gailiunas was found on his knees, holding his toddler son and bleeding from gunshot wounds to his hand, forearm and cheek, police said.

Inside, his 36-year-old wife lay dead with a gunshot wound to the neck.

Both Hill and Gailiunas were community activists, volunteering at Food Not Bombs and local educational workshops, friends said.

“These were people who came here and worked for the poor and helped out those in difficult situations,” said Robert Thompson, a friend and owner of Fair Grinds, a Mid-City coffee shop where Hill held free filmmaking seminars.

The couple had moved into their North Rampart Street apartment in August after returning from South Carolina, other friends said. They fled their Mid-City home during Hurricane Katrina and were trying to rebuild it.

“They were proactive people that were trying to help solve the city’s problems,” Thompson said. “They cared.”

“This is a huge loss for the city,” he said.

. . . . . . .

Staff writers Walt Philbin and Katy Reckdahl contributed to this report.

Brendan McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] or (504) 826-3301.

Laura Maggi can be reached at [email protected] or (504) 826-3316.

84 Responses to “Helen Hill Will Not Be Forgotten”

  1. Chris Says:

    Bart, I can’t tell you how shaken your account of this horrible tragedy has left me. It’s all so senseless, just like you said.

    If there’s anything I can do to help (esp. with the website, of which I can contribute my design skills or free hosting) please let me know.

  2. Kelly Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  3. Andrea and PJ Says:

    B and XY, please place a few flowers for us. We wish we could be there with you.

  4. Kelly K. Says:

    Oh my god.

    I’m so sorry. For you, for Paul – and you mentioned a child. I can’t think of ANYTHING worse.

    My thoughts are with all of you.

    I know from recent, fresh, experience, what grieving a death feels like – how the tears and sorrow come on in (sometimes overpowering) waves. How you can’t predict from one time period to the next when you will and won’t be crying. And once the tears mostly stop, how the thoughts linger.

    But I am have been grieving an older man and family member who had the chance to live a long, full life and who had raised his child.

    I am angry and hurt for and with you and her family.

    I hate to say it, but maybe it’s time for your family to think about relocating. I know that goes against everything you’ve been working for. But in the end, your personal safety is more important than the plight of a disgracefully neglected, federally-abandoned city. If you can’t be safe there… maybe it’s time to try a more secure way of life? I’m sure that will read like nonsense to one who is so committed and involved in making positive changes. But I don’t want the next news story of this type to be about Editor B or XY, either. I’m sure there is much that can be done for New Orleans, also, from a distance, and that if anyone could be successful in that endeavor, it would be you.

    Damn.

  5. Becka Barker Says:

    Thank you for expressing the kinds of things I think a lot of us are thinking. I am one of their former housemates from Halifax (Canada) and right now I’m stuck in the Republic of Korea. Helen and Paul are very, very dear to me (I’m sure you understand this) and I’ve tried finding more information on where I could get a message to Paul, to let him know how much my husband and I love him. The hospital told me he’s already been discharged. If any of you out there can help us connect somehow with the tributes and memorials happening locally, we’d be extremely grateful.
    Many thanks, and much love to all the mutual friends,

    Becka Barker

  6. Tony Says:

    Outraged! If I weren’t at work right now I’d be screaming at the top of my lungs. I offer my condolence and a helping hand in whatever capacity.

  7. Lee Says:

    I’m sorry for the loss B, the artistic people of this world love to create, not harm.

    It is a problem with society though, as last year was the 2nd deadliest year in Indy as well. One night an entire family of 7.

    Plant a tree to memorialize her, I know you may not have the room on your property, but property is theft right?

  8. Brendan McCarthy Says:

    My name is Brendan McCarthy, I am a reporter for the Times-Picayune. I’m working on a profile of helen and paul for the paper. By all accounts, they were the kind of people needed in this city right now. It is a very unfortunate incident.
    If you would like to contact me, please e-mail [email protected] .

  9. Jana Says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. What a terrible tragedy. I hope at least a witness is brave enough to come forward.

  10. Marco Says:

    It’s an outrage & horrible. My heart goes out to the family and all their friends, like you too.The best thing you can do is march and keep marching against all the senseless killing. I’ll be marching with ya’ in spirit.

  11. missedexit Says:

    I am so sorry to read this. I hope that the memory of Helen stays strong as the years pass, and all the good she has done, will remain in the eyes of her husband, Paul, their family and friends. And to those that took her life, as well as the others who were murdered, may they experience the feeling of loss, to see the insanity of murder.

  12. kitty Says:

    Move to Shreveport. I beg you all to relocate here or somewhere safer. Sorry for your loss, our loss. Sincerely, Kitty

  13. annied Says:

    Helen was my cousin. I want to do something, but don’t know what to do. If I can help in any way, tell me. We, her family, are just waiting for the next step. Iam a kindergarten teacher, and teach non-violence to my five-year olds in Harlem every day. Now, more than ever, I will work for peace.

    Thank you for your thoughts, and to everyone who has posted, thank you. Justice must be served.

  14. dangerblond Says:

    I’m sorry, ya’ll. You two have been through an awful lot lately. Personally, I hope you will not relocate.

  15. Pauline Teel Says:

    My heart is aching with sadness. Paul was my doctor before Katrina. He is one of the sweetest, giving people I have ever known. He and Helen glowed with postive energy and the light of goodness.
    This morning, I turned on my computer to check the morning headlines. I saw a picture of Paul & Helen. The first thing that entered my mind was,
    ” Did they get some kind of award for being good people ?”Much to my horror, the word MURDER was in the same sentence with their names…. I literally felt sick as I read about the tragedy.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul & Francis. This is a terrible tragedy.

    Pauline Teel
    Mid City
    NOLA

  16. Beau Says:

    What is the problem there? Why are the thugs being allowed to take control of this city? Bring in the National Guard if the police department can’t handle it! New Orleans will never get rebuilt with this kind of publicity and lack of control on its streets. I love New Orleans and it is just not right to allow this kind of lack of control to continue.

  17. Cade Roux Says:

    My wife now wants us to relocate, too. Sydney is in the toddlers room at Abeona where Francis is in the preschool room. It’s going to be a struggle to see a way forward here. At least some parts of my family have been here since 1722. What can we do when our elected leadership has failed at every level?

  18. Marcela Lineiro Says:

    Bart-
    I’m your former neighbor on the corner of Bienville/Salcedo. Thank you so much for your eloquent words about this unimaginable thing. Helen and Paul are some of the most beautiful, kind and loving people that I have ever known. Your words cut right to the heart of it. What a loss to the city and to humankind.

    Marcela Lineiro
    Los Angeles, CA
    (Formerly Mid-City, NOLA)

  19. Karen Says:

    Bart, I spent the day in Central City trying to connect with folks engaged in the City. I am going to spend the next few days there and in other parts of the City trying to do outreach. We are trying to organize a Citizen Crime Summit.

    We have 2 instances of a parent gunned down in front of spouse and child.Too Much to bear.

  20. Maureen Furniss Says:

    Thank you for posting this message and providing a place for people to share their grief about this tragedy.
    I met Helen through some email based research I did on experimental animation a few years ago, and finally had the chance to meet her, Paul, and their lovely son last summer when they came to the school where I teach (Cal Arts, in the Los Angeles area).
    These people were unlike any I had ever met, especially as a family unit. They glowed with warmth and light. Everything you said about them is true. One of my friends described them as angels on earth.
    Helen made a great film called Madame Winger Makes a Film:A Survival Guide for the 21st Century. In it she joked about the threat of nuclear disasters and the need to have a bomb-proof film lab within your own home. It’s sadly ironic to think about it in light of what happened.
    I’m glad I had the chance to meet Helen and Paul, and my heart aches for Paul and both their families. For all of us really.
    I hope you will post information about memorial services or other ways in which we can support the family and honor Helen.
    – Maureen

  21. Katie Says:

    I did not know Helen, although I have been told that she was pregnant with me at our friend’s baby shower. Francis only 2 months younger than my first born. I am heartbroken to say the very least. My little family relocated from New Orleans to Mississippi just 2 months ago…we felt forced out of our hometown after moving back after katrina and trying to make a difference. Forced out by the violent crime, poor quality of life, and inability to financially afford to live there, etc.

    This so easily could have been us, or our friends who now live in Indiana, or our friends, still, that are braving it out in Nola. The fact that it was ANYONE, much less this angel is unacceptable.

    Please post information as you have it on memorials and/or ways in which we can help the survivors of this tragedy. We are waiting. on our knees in grief.

  22. scout prime Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss and for the loss to New Orleans

  23. dambala Says:

    my condolences.

    Please let us know if anyone is setting up a scholarship fund or accepting donations for the family or their daughter.

  24. The G Bitch Spot » Margaritas as Coping Strategy: Where I Live at Now Says:

    […] Update: There is panic, dismay, deep grief and even talk among some of leaving. Also on tap: a march on City Hall, Sunday, Jan. 11, 1 p.m. with a planning meeting the 7th (details at Humid City and NOLA-dishu). See posts by Editor B (who knew Helen Hill), Adrastos, dangerblond, Loki, Michael Homan. posted by G Bitch at 11:55 am   […]

  25. Paul Vernon Says:

    Hi there,
    I just heard about this terrible tragedy. I knew Paul and Helen years ago in Halifax, NS. Helen and Paul so happy together, always happy to meet new people, to be friends with anyone, to share in the joys that life can bring, and to bring joy into lives where it wasn’t so easy to find. I remember when they first got a pig, they were so happy and excited. Paul and his band Piggy were amazing. They always wanted to spread happiness and unite communities of people wherever they went. All they wanted to do was to make the world a better place. It is so terrible and so sad that this could happen to such lovely, peaceful people. They were such the perfect couple, and I feel so terrible for Paul right now … there is no way to make sense of this. I remember talking to him before they left, asking why he would possibly want to leave the gorgeous community in Halifax of which they were such a key part. He said something to the effect that he wanted to go because Helen wanted to go and he wanted to support her and meet some new friends.
    My heart aches from the injustice of all of this.
    Please pass on to Paul that my thoughts are with him, and if there is any way that I can help please let me know.
    pv

  26. Jon Nelson Says:

    I am so sorry. This is all reminding me of struggles of other friends who tried to stay in Detroit and make a difference. I hope you know that you are making a difference.

  27. courtney Says:

    Bart,
    Helen’s funeral is Wednesday at 2pm in Columbia, SC. I am not sure where yet but I will keep you posted. A gathering is scheduled at Cafe Brasil this Sunday at 7pm – some of Helen’s films will be screened then and it is hoped that friends and admirers of Helen will gather. We are so sad to have worked hard to convince Paul and Helen to return to this city. Everyone please come, and also attend the meeting at Sound Cafe at 1pm this Sunday, the same day.

  28. Allison Says:

    I knew Paul & Helen in Halifax. They lived down the street from me. I am appalled to hear of what’s happened. It’s beyond senseless. I am so sorry.

  29. ColdChef Says:

    Linked on MetaFilter.

  30. Marilyn Says:

    Helen’s death has made national news, yes right across Canada, although I’m sure those in Halifax are feeling this terrible loss the worst. CBC’s As It Happens did a beautiful tribute to both Helen and Paul tonight. If you go to:

    http://www.cbc.ca/radioshows/AS_IT_HAPPENS/20070104.shtml

    I think it is in the first segment.

    This is the time to celebrate the life of a gentle and creative soul. But, deep down in my heart there is a rage: what a waste, what a tragic waste of a woman who had so much to offer.

  31. Sara Says:

    I’m so sorry.

  32. Sandra Bauer Says:

    I did not know Paul and Helen but feel as though I do, and completely understand their love for the city and its people.

    Such good and sweet people; such a senseless loss for their boy and for Paul.

    Where does it stop? And when?

    Help! New Orleans is hemorraging! She needs emergency assistance! Someone please do something USEFUL and NOW!

    ~from Ottawa, Canada with love and prayers.

  33. lemming Says:

    I’d simply liek to echo what has already been said – please keep all of us updated. You’ve written a beautiful post about someone who must have been a truly beautiful woman.

  34. Lisa Scheidt Says:

    I met Helen and her husband, Paul, years ago when they visited Calgary for an animation workshop. I remember them as kind and giving people who made me feel like a welcome friend even though I had just met them. I was shocked to hear about this senseless murder on our national news last night. My thoughts go out to Paul and his child and all their friends and family.

  35. Frannie Says:

    I am so disheartened to hear that something like this could happen to such wonderful people. I met them in Columbia,SC after Katrina and I knew instantly what good people they were. So kind and friendly and unselfish. I wish the families condolences because the they are the kind of people all of us should try to be.

  36. Tara Lee Wittchen Says:

    Helen and Paul brought joy and sunshine and music and compassion and fun wherever they went. My heart aches so much to think of such a tragedy, it does not seem real, it cannot be real. Here in my adopted hometown of Halifax, people from every organization that makes this town so special are reeling, are in deep pain and in mourning at the loss of such a special woman and for the suffering that Paul must be going through.

    The one bit of light that offers real comfort is that Helen, through her never ending magical ways, is bringing together old friends and neighbours in the middle of a dreary winter. We will be holding several memorial events to remember and celebrate Helen Hill and to honour Paul’s contribution to our community and our lives. Halifax loved Helen and Paul so very much.

    Helen, I will always remember the day you brought me apples. Thank you for teaching us all so much about love and sharing and dreams and imagination.

  37. Janet Perlman Says:

    It’s impossible to absorb this tragedy happening to someone as talented and as kind as Helen. I was one of her animation teachers. Her enthusiasm, humor and caring nature were infectious. I can’t at all express how saddened I am for her family.

  38. Nikki Says:

    Please help organize a memorial scultpure for Helen, Francis Pop and Paul at

    http://nolanik.blogspot.com/2007/01/memorial-sculpture-for-helen-paul-and.html

  39. Nikki Says:

    sculpture

  40. Sherri Says:

    I met Helen and Paul briefly at the Halifax Farmer’s Market years ago. I am so very sad and sorry…She was indeed a shining light and I can’t even imagine the loss her friends and family must feel as I feel it even as I only met them in passing… Please accept my condolences to her family and friends. Perhaps the outpouring of love will help ease some of the pain you all feel. This is such a senseless and hard to fathom tragedy.

  41. kim and John Says:

    We met Paul on several occasions at his Granmothers house (Francis Gailiunas) in Wocester Massachusetts. My husband and I used to rent from Pauls grandmother. We heard a lot about Helen (from Paul and Francis) and were fortunate to meet Helen on two occasions. They are both wonderful caring people. Our heart goes out to Paul and Francis Pop. This is so devastating. What kind of world do we live in?

  42. mike Says:

    oh, bart. oh, nola. oh, man.

  43. John Preble Says:

    Thanks for writing this. Helen was an Angel. John Preble

  44. John Says:

    My deepest condolences to Paul and Francis. I am so sad for your loss.

  45. denise tullier-holly Says:

    Paul, Francis, family and friends,
    Helen came to my school to share her animation wonderment with my students. We had an extraordinary day. She was such a joy!
    It was only later that she wrote me to say that she had been pregnant with Francis Pop at the time of her visit. We lost touch after Katrina.
    I had just found her email address again and I had emailed Helen 3 days before I heard the terrible news. Didn’t know if the address was valid.
    Sadness fills me and yet, it is my hope that we might carry Helen’s joyful spirit in our own lives.
    Thank you, Helen, with hugs to Paul and Francis.
    denise

  46. denise tullier-holly Says:

    Thanks for making this spot available.
    Hope the doctors without borders donation site for Helen is up soon.

  47. Jordan Black Says:

    I met Helen and her family last summer at an animation program at CalArts. She taught us paper puppet animation and explained her current project, “The Florestine Collection,” which was shaping up to be an amazing piece of art. Although she stayed with us for only two weeks, I’m really glad I got to meet such an amazing woman. She was one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever known and i’m greatly saddened by her death. My heart goes out to her son, Francis and her husband, Paul in this sad time. Helen would want us all to take the best of this terrible situation, and I’m going to try and concentrate on what a positive influence she had on me and all the kids at CSSSA last summer. We love you, Helen.

  48. Julesb_town Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss-paul, francis, B and all others who knew and loved helen. although i did not know helen, paul and francis- i can’t stop thinking about the intense sadness and loss created so quickly and randomly. We send you love, peace and healing from Bloomington.

  49. Christian Turner Says:

    I met Helen a few times with in the past few years when I was a student at NOCCA/Riverfront as she came to teach independent film making classes in the media arts department. She was an extraordinarily talented artist and tought my classmates and I many skills that she had mastered. In the few times I’ve been in her presence, I had never seen her without a smile, always being cheerful and friendly. I couldn’t believe it when I saw her face on the news and heard the terrible news. I cant stand watching the news everynight to see how many people had been murdered. There hardly is any good news anymore, it seems 90% of the news program is “bad news”. Coming from a life long resident of New Orleans, this horrible event makes me re-consider starting my adult life in what this city has become.

  50. Henry W. Fuller Says:

    Right now my son, Michael, is getting ready to leave Halifax to attend Helen Hill’s service. It will be along journey as he was devastated to learn of Helen’s unforgivable death at the hands of an intruder. I have not met Helen or Paul.

    Our daughter Susanna who lives in Halifax’s North end knew both of them when they lived there. I had heard stories, but not paid too much attention. Michael had moved to New Orleans with his girl friend. Paul and Helen were moving there so Susanna made the introduction. They became great friends, both couples being strangers in what today has become a no man’s land. Or should I say a no person’s land, a place of the disenfranchised and dispossesed. Just think if the only a smidgeon of the billions of dollars being wasted in Iraq had come home to roost in a meangingful restorative manner after the destruction of Katrina. There is no doubt in my mind that Helen with Paul at her side repesented the best that mankind has to offer with regards to their commitment to help those in need. Let us not forget Helen or Paul or their son.

  51. Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association Says:

    The medical community, arts community, and people in general in Halifax are reeling from this devastating news. Many calls and emails are coming in to the medical alumni office. Paul and Helen were well known, well respected and loved here in Halifax. Many suggestions for donations, etc to Doctors Without Borders, Food not Bombs, etc. are coming in to the medical alumni office. We are here to help. If anyone would like to provide suggestions – those of you who best know Paul, and knew Helen – we will help to organize condolences, etc. here in Halifax. Various graduate classes from Dalhousie Medicine wish to get together and assist in some way and are eager to help. People are devastated, and awestruck at the senselessness of this horrible tragedy. Our prayers go out to Paul and the family and those of you close to this terrible event.

  52. spab Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My condolences to everyone who ever knew her. A friend of Bart’s is a friend of mine.

  53. Mrs. Iris Posey Says:

    I was driving into work this morning and I heard the tragic news about Mrs. Hill. I am so sorry for her death, she didn’t need to die. To have died so young, Heaven needed her. Gone, but not forgotten I’m sure. She will be looking over her husband and their young son. I live in Kentucky and the herricane that hit New Orleans, it was felt (to me) everywhere. We have the residue of “bad” people living all around us here in Ky. But because I am a Christian, I have tried to adopt Jesus’ teachings. That He was us to have agape love, for every one. Just because I am a Christian, doesn’t mean I have to understand it.
    Blessings.

  54. TLTroup Says:

    I lay in bed this morning listening to the NPR report on violent crime and the conclusion to Helen’s story, and tears ran down my face. I hear your pain, and I mourn our loss.

  55. Robert J. Fagerlund Says:

    Here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we of the Ann Arbor Film Festival remember Helen and her intelligence, warmth and kindness as a judge a few years ago. Our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones.

  56. Heidy M. Says:

    I fear for the innocent children growing up in these neighborhoods. Please spread peace and love, your lives are at stake. I’ve never met neither Paul or Helen, I live in Boston and I was reading the headlines. I’m sending my condolences to the family and friends suffering for Helen’s loss.
    God Bless!

  57. Liza Says:

    Bart and Christy and everyone else touched by this tragic event, my thoughts are with you. This is terrible news and I am so sorry for your loss.

  58. khadijah Says:

    i got to know of helen just by reading your comments relative to her life lived. just reading the news in philadelphia where i live i found her/husband sad story yet in between the sadness i was feeling, reading about her brightness made me feel happy inside . she is somebody who really cared about mankind regardless,regardless,and to all who know her,love her, just remember, throughout all the sadness,the loss,lonelyness,anger,she lives through you .helen would have it no other way ending her life ,she open the door to reach out ,regardless……let all of us continue in her bright ,warm spirit ,regardless.

  59. Aaron Poehler Says:

    Well that basically just fucking sucks. My condolences.

  60. mr. mike Says:

    My condolences.

  61. Adrienne Florence Says:

    I knew Helen, not well, but enough to know that losing her is beyond tragic and that her spirit will always be remembered. My deepest condolensence to all who knew her.

  62. Anonymous Says:

    the roots that grow underground are as big as the tree; if not it will fall down

  63. Jenno Olszewski Says:

    I met Helen and Paul through Food Not Bombs, and was apalled to hear what happened to their family. At first, the news destroyed what remaining hope for the city I had clung to. I attended the march today out of respect for Helen’s memory, and I left with the knowlege that we as individuals are not alone in mourning the all-too-frequent losses, nor are we alone in our desire to mend our city’s wounds. I did not know Helen well, in fact I had only met her several times, but I feel that a call to action is a better way to honor her memory than drowning in hopelessness.

  64. Carolyn Allen Says:

    I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Helen, but I know Dr Paul very well. Back in 2005, he provided medical care and comfort to my boyfriend, John Cuffe, who died of bone cancer on July 24, 2005. During this most difficult time, he was so giving, so available – a true “angel” in John’s life as well as my own. I lost touch with him after the storm until this incident.

    My heart aches for Dr Paul for the loss he has experienced and the pain he is feeling. Dr Paul, if you read this, please know that my hopes and prayers are with you. I will never forget what you meant to John and I.

  65. Shelley Goodson Says:

    I met Paul and Helen only briefly as they were walking their enchanting pig around the neighbourhood where I lived when I first moved to Halifax. They were so delighted with each other (and of course Rosie) that it was quite impossible not to respond to that delight, and innocent pleasure in life. “Sorry” hardly begins to express my sadness – such kind and blameless people, one gone, two left hurting. I hope that Paul and Francis will be absolutely showered with all the love they need.

  66. Former NOLA resident Says:

    My condolences to the City of New Orleans. I lived there in the late 70’s and loved every minute of the time I spent there. My daughter now goes to school in NOLA and I worry for her safety.
    Although I never met Helen, she was the type of person who made living in NOLA such a wonderful experience. My heart goes out to her family and the city for suffering such a great loss.

  67. Sue Weisshaar Says:

    I just found out about Helen’s murder and I’m absolutely sickened.

    Helen was finishing her MFA in Experimental Animation at CalArts the year I started in the same program. She was the epitome of sweet, kind, gentle, funny, creative, quirky, intelligent and erudite all rolled into one amazing person.

    For a time at CalArts her nickname was “Chicken”. Before I’d gotten to know her better I asked her why they called her Chicken and she said “Oh I’m not scared or anything – Some of us were sitting around calling each other different animal names and that one just stuck.” Lorelei Pepi suggested at one point that we have a water balloon fight on the little hilly area outside of the Experimental Animation lab and we could call it “The Battle of Chicken Hill”.

    Over the years I’ve fallen out of the loop with most of my CalArts friends, but I truly feel lucky to have known Helen in the relatively brief time our lives overlapped. She was the kind of person who had a positive impact on most everyone she met – This I know first hand.

    My heart aches for the loss of Chicken Hill.

  68. TS Says:

    I am so sorry for this loss B.

    I dont want to babble, but I really dont know what
    to say.

    I suppose from this thread, we get a glimpse of the
    web we all live

  69. William John Says:

    I saw the story on CNN from Melbourne, Australia, and was so saddened by the loss that I searched for somewhere just to saw how sorry and heartfelt I feel for her parents, her family… her child… from what I’ve learnt, the Hill’s are just such great people and I can’t help but lower my eyes for them today.

    William John.

  70. Luciano Rossi Says:

    I can not accept this…i will do something as great as I can do to amplify the love i received from Dr. Paul i will dedicate the movie i am just starting ( Love in New Orleans ) to his beloved wife Helen Hill… but nothing I can do appeared to be enough …

  71. Rebecca Says:

    I’m going back to New Orleans next week.
    This story has been on my brain all week.
    I am so sorry for the loss of this incredible person.
    I’m saddened and angered by this tragedy but I
    am still going back (I go a few times a year) to help
    those left behind, in the good and bad.

    My condolences!

  72. Brian Says:

    Helen was one of the sweetest people I have ever met. The fact that this could happen just blows my mind. I will never forget her.

  73. b.rox » Blog Archive » Funeral for a Friend Says:

    […] the streets of the city was a testimony to an extraordinary woman, an extraordinary life. We will never forget Helen […]

  74. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Women’s Studies at the University South Carolina Says:

    […] Finally, I need to mention Helen Hill, the SC native filmmaker daughter of two of my WOST colleagues, Kevin and Becky Lewis, who was murdered on January 4th, in New Orleans. She and her family survived Katrina, but not its violent aftermath. The WOST Conference ended with a sad but inspirational memorial showing of a number of her short films. She will not be forgotten. […]

  75. b.rox » Blog Archive » House of Pain Says:

    […] will never forget you, […]

  76. paul Says:

    i know all too well, that mere words cannot assuage your grief, at this time. but know, that many strangers feel your pain, and also know that many have had their loved ones stolen from them, and can walk with you now if you need to talk with someone, please contact me.
    richard lo piccolo [wife cara was victim in la. pizza kitchen robbery, 10 yrs. ago]
    richardsan [at] mac [dot] com

  77. Bob Says:

    My father was also murdered in his home during a robbery. Please email me I would like to know who at NOPD worked the case. They totaly blew it for us. How did things go for Helens investagation?

  78. b.rox » Blog Archive » We Still Miss You, Helen Says:

    […] will never forget you, […]

  79. b.rox » Blog Archive » Confessions of a Media Whore Says:

    […] returned to the city with a vengeance. Dinerral Shavers was killed just before the new year, Helen Hill just after, leading to the organization of what I believe was the largest public demonstration in […]

  80. b.rox » Blog Archive » Profiles in Bloggage, Part 4 Says:

    […] crime before, during and after the march. I wrote about Dinerral’s murder and of course Helen’s. Through connections made in the blogosphere, Karen Gadbois and I were among the dozen speakers at […]

  81. b.rox » Blog Archive » Not Forgotten Says:

    […] It was all so damnably accurate. It stirs painful memories. But at the same time I’m glad that Helen is not forgotten. […]

  82. The winter of our discontent « Back Of Town Says:

    […] It was all so damnably accurate. It stirs painful memories. But at the same time I’m glad that Helen is not forgotten. […]

  83. b.rox » Archive » Florestine Says:

    […] while Helen was still working on the film. Helen was murdered in a home invasion in New Orleans in 2007. Her husband Paul Gailiunas has completed the film, which includes Helen’s original silhouette, […]

  84. b.rox » Archive » Somber Reflections Says:

    […] It was five years ago today that I got the terrible news that Helen Hill had been murdered in her home. She will not be forgotten. […]

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