Woman wanted in Villages minimart robbery caught packing handgun in sports bra

Ashley Danielle Helm

A Belleview woman wanted in connection with a robbery at a Villages minimart – and possibly others as well – is behind bars in the Lake County Jail after she was caught packing a pistol inside her sports bra.

A Lake County sheriff’s detective on Sunday was assigned the case from a recent robbery at the Kangaroo convenience store, located at 401 N U.S. Hwy. 27/441, on the Historic Side of The Villages. After conducting lineups based on suspect information and video surveillance footage, it was determined that 19-year-old Ashley Danielle Helm was the suspect. The detective also had spoken with detectives at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and discovered that Helm was a possible suspect in two other robberies.

On Wednesday, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office shared information about a similar robbery and area law enforcement were told to be on the lookout. A short time later, a Lake County sheriff’s deputy and a Lady Lake Police officer spotted a black Dodge Charger “parked and running in a suspicious manner” in the parking lot of the Circle K at 3 Lagrande Blvd. – directly across Griffin Avenue from the Kangaroo minimart, a Lake County sheriff’s office report states.

The deputy encountered Helm as she was leaving the store and upon further investigation, he discovered that she had a .38-caliber handgun inside her sports bra that matched the description of one used in recent robberies. She was taken into custody and a mask was found inside her vehicle that matched the description of one used by a female during recent robberies in Marion County, the report says.

Helm was interviewed by Lake County sheriff’s detectives and after being read her rights, she “gave a full confession to the robbery in Lake County and the two robberies in Marion County,” the report says.

Helm, who lives at 9971 SE 117th Street Rd. in Belleview, was then booked into the Lake County Jail and charged with robbery with a firearm and improper exhibit of a firearm or dangerous weapon. She was being held on $52,000 bond and is due in court on Nov. 12 at 8:30 a.m. to answer to the charges.