Guardian Angels warn neighbors about Hyde Park Rapist

- The Tampa Bay Guardian Angels are wallpapering the area near Hillsborough Avenue and 22 nd Street with warning signs that point out an infamous sex offender is living in the area.

Bobby Joe Helms, 58, was nicknamed, "The Hyde Park Rapist" in the 1980's after admitting to a string of home invasions and rapes in South Tampa.  He was released from jail this Spring.

He registered to live at a home on Ellicott Street, which is several hundred feet from Middleton High School.

"We are just letting everybody know," said Ron Smith, the head of the Guardian Angels chapter of Tampa Bay. "He is a serial rapist."

Helms served a dozen years during one stint in prison, then he was sent back after raping a teenager.

"Everyday, they have to drive around, or go to work," said Smith, "and wonder if they are going to bump into the same guy again, and they re-live that nightmare everyday."

Tampa Police have documented checking on him seventeen times.

"Everytime we send an officer out to check up on him, he is within the guidelines of his parole and probation," said police department spokeswoman Andrea Davis. "At this point, he has done nothing to indicate he would be a threat."

His restrictions include obeying a curfew, submitting to searches and wearing an ankle monitor.

"He relayed to our officers that he understood that he caused a lot of pain for people in this area, and he had plans in the future that once he had the resources, to move away."

The Guardian Angels acknowledge Helms has no restriction against living near a school.  But they say it's their right to make the community aware.

"If he is really sorry for the things he did, and wants to make amends, that he would move from the area," said Smith.

TPD says they will continue to check on him, in addition to any requirements he has with his probation officer.

Helms was not home when we were there.

His neighbors all say they have been aware of his presence, though none wanted to discuss it publicly.
 

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