Sheriff: Man admitted to dumping friend’s body in Madison County

James Helms was arrested after the discovery of a dead body in Madison County.(Provided Photo/Madison County Sheriff's Department)
James Helms was arrested after the discovery of a dead body in Madison County.(Provided Photo/Madison County Sheriff's Department)

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A 40-year-old man admitted to dumping his friend’s dead body near a wooded area, according to Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger.

Detectives said 40-year-old James Helms told police he panicked after 35-year-old Billy Emberton of Elwood died of a drug overdose.

Police arrested Helms and he faces preliminary charges of unauthorized disposal of a dead body and obstruction of justice.

Emberton’s sister, Christy Julian, said Helms was Emberton’s best friend and she considers him family.

Julian said Emberton struggled with addiction. He went through drug court, completed rehab and was working hard to turn his life around, according to Julian.

“He just was always fun and he finally got back to that,” Julian said. “And I think he just kind of got lost for a little while.”

Police said someone spotted Emberton’s body near a wooded area Sunday afternoon before calling 911. Detectives believe Helms dumped the body there Thursday.

Julian spent part of Tuesday flipping through old photos of her brother.

“He was the most giving person. He was always there to help,” Julian said. “For me, he was always the one that protected me. Always made sure I was safe.”

An autopsy showed no signs of injury to Emberton’s body. Detectives are still waiting on toxicology results.

“Until we know all of the answers, just focus on Billy and remembering Billy. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Julian said. “There’s a whole community that’s hurt right now and that whole community just needs to come together.”