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Brenda Kartes' ex-boyfriend, boss shares story of ongoing investigation with WDAY News

FARGO — Steven Helm says he feared for the worst when he learned his one-time girlfriend and employee Brenda Kartes vanished without a trace from a drug-treatment facility in July 2018.

In a Tuesday, Sept. 3, interview with WDAY News' Matt Henson, he said his fears were confirmed. The Fargo Police Department announced on Aug. 29 that skeletal remains found days before near the Red River in south Fargo belonged to 32-year-old Kartes.

"(It was) terrifying. Words can't express what the last week has been like," he said.

Police have not ruled Kartes' death a homicide but have called it suspicious.

Helm, who had been dating Kartes for about a year, says he joined the community in searching for her. He told WDAY News that he had been trying to end his relationship around the time she disappeared, and for that reason, investigators have met with him multiple times.


But he said he sometimes feels that police are pointing the finger at him.

"Despite the help I have been giving them, I've been looked at . . . like I know more than what I have mentioned," explained Helm, who said he voluntarily took a lie-detector test from investigators. "I don't know if there is a pass or not. I don't know what a pass would be. They said they would go over the polygraph with me but they never did."


  • Woman found near Red River remembered as a 'beautiful person inside and out'

  • Human remains are missing Fargo woman Brenda Kartes; police consider death suspicious

In the interview, Helm, who owns the adult entertainment and exotic dancer business Sinful Desires, maintained he had nothing to do with Brenda Kartes' disappearance.
"Did you do anything to Brenda?" Henson asked Helm.

"No, I loved her," he replied.

While Helm said he is being cautious about divulging information provided to him by police about the investigation, he told WDAY News that Kartes' death could possibly be tied to his adult entertainment business where she had worked as a dancer.

"There are a few people that have been a concern to me," he said.

Helm said police have not contacted him since Kartes' body was found, but he has reached out to them to offer possible leads.


When asked by Henson if something "sinister," happened to Kartes, he said he wasn't sure.

Fargo police said last week they have identified people of interest in the case but have not disclosed any names.

Police ask anyone with information about Brenda Kartes' disappearance or death to contact them at 701-241-5777, or text-a-tip to 701-730-8888.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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