The Case of Gerald Helmer
Born in 1932, Gerald Helmer contracted meningitis as a child and the illness had left him severely disabled. Upon his death in 2014, Finders was given the case to look into as Gerald had not left a will and had no known next of kin.Meningitis was a very infectious condition in the 1930s and treatment for such an illness was very different at the time. Children would have been placed in infection wards and it is likely they did not see their parents or family for long periods of time. Their parents, too, would have remained in ignorance about what was happening to their children. Nonetheless, Gerald’s neighbour remembered him a very cheerful person who was always smiling and she had enjoyed his company a great deal.
Case manager Ryan Gregory had initially thought that Gerald had been one of two children, and that his brother Peter had died in childhood. Investigations then looked to his parents and their families to find heirs. However, one of Ryan’s team found out that Gerald did in fact have two other brothers, whose issue would have taken precedence over any cousins. Further research revealed that a second brother had also died without ever marrying or having children, and the third brother had been killed during the Second World War.
The Finders team discovered seven heirs in total – all cousins, and the investigation prompted a family get together. The cousins were delighted to find out information about a branch of the family they had known little about, using the family tree Ryan had prepared for them. They expressed grateful thanks that at a time of life where you expect to be saying goodbye to people, they had all been able to meet up and re-establish family bonds.
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