July 10, 2022 — At the peak of his television fame, wiseguy-turned-actor Tony Sirico was sought for questioning in the cold-case murder investigation of aspiring Hollywood starlet Christa Helm, but refused to cooperate. Helm was brutally slain outside her Los Angeles residence in the winter of 1977. The case was revisited by LAPD detectives in the 2000s when Sirico was part of the most popular show on television. No charges have ever been filed in the investigation.
Sirico co-starred in the groundbreaking HBO tv series, The Sopranos, about a fictional New Jersey mob family where he played an eccentric, ultra-pop culture quotable mafia capo called “Paulie Walnuts” Gaultieri. The show ran from 1999 until 2007 and changed the landscape of scripted television forever, bringing cinema-quality craftsmanship to the small screen and ushering in the era of the anti-hero in series tv.
Sirico died this week of natural causes at age 79. His art imitated his life. Before he became an actor — known for his roles in mob fare on big and small screen, alike, — he lived life as a real gangster and New York mafia figure. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he came up as a criminal in the Colombo crime family. After a short state prison sentence (his NYPD jacket boasted 28 arrests dating back to the 1950s), Sirico relocated to L.A. and embarked in a career in the entertainment industry.
Christa Helm was a L.A. transplant, too. She moved from Milwaukee to New York and finally L.A. where she became a fixture on the celebrity-party scene. Prior to heading to the West Coast, Helm made a substantial amount of money by being an investor to the hit Broadway musical Godspell.
According to multiple media accounts, Helm was romanced by a multitude of rich and powerful men, including A-List actors, star pro athletes, best-selling music artists, trust-fund heirs and former heads of state. Helm was known for video and auto recording her sexual escapades and keeping a diary with a rating system for all her famous lovers.
On February 12, 1977, Helm was bludgeoned and stabbed to death in front of her West Hollywood home. Sirico and Helm shared a mutual connection to costume designer to the stars, Lenny Barrin, who was friends with Sirico and some of his New York mob pals. Barrin was responsible for introducing Helm into the Hollywood fast lane and acted as her booking agent for modeling, acting and singing gigs. At the time of her slaying, she was recording a disco album for Casablanca Records.
Upon the re-opening of the Helm homicide probe by LAPD in the mid-2000s, investigators fielded a tip that Sirico was sent into Helm’s home the night she was killed to retrieve cash, valuables and her sex-tape collection. Sirico’s fingerprints were traced to Helm’s closest inside her bedroom, per sources familiar with the case file.
Helm’s journal with an index of her sexual conquests and accompanying “rating” on performance was missing from Helm’s belongings and never found. Several of her celebrity sex tapes leaked to LAPD detectives during the initial phase of the investigation. Informants told police Helm was threatening to use her tapings of her many trysts and personal diary reflections against a number of her former lovers and their business associates.
Police considered Sirico a “person of interest” in the Helm murder case. Per LAPD case files, he denied knowing Helm when approached by detectives working the case in 2005, rebuffed their attempts to question him further and referred them to his attorney for any further inquiries.
Helm had romantic affairs with New York mob boss, Carmine (Junior) Persico and his brother and mafia capo Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, according to sources. “Junior” Persico headed the Colombo crime family from the 1970s until he died behind bars of natural causes in 2019. The Persicos and Sirico all hail from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn.
FBI records from 1978 ties Sirico to the Persicos and Colombo crime family figures James (Jimmy Brown) Clemenza, James (Jimmy Green Eyes) Clemenza. Jr. and Gerard (Jerry Green Eyes) Clemenza. The “Green Eyes brothers” were present at a number of Sopranos cast functions and parties in the 2000s, per FBI surveillance logs.
This article was originally posted here