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Viewers at The Metropolitan Opera House are usually enraptured by the drama on the stage. But one night in July 1980, it was a drama that played out off-stage that that proved more gripping, and left a puzzling mystery.
Helen Mintiks, a 30-year-old violinist named Helen Mintiks who was performing in a show got up during intermission — but she never returned, Inside Edition reported in 2019.
Her husband was waiting for her outside to finish the performance, but she never came out. He went back to their apartment hoping to find her there, but those hopes were dashed when a friend returned with her violin.
Authorities were contacted and Mintiks was soon found — dead in a ventilation shaft on the third floor of the opera house, The Washington Post reported in 1980. She was naked and had been bound and gagged, and had died from a fall from the roof down the shaft. It had occurred during the second half of the performance, while thousands of people were in the building. The case of a woman taken and killed during the opera garnered massive attention, earning the moniker "The Phantom Of The Opera Murder."
Who would want to kill Mintiks? The young woman had grown up on a farm in British Columbia, the child of immigrants from Finland. She loved to play the piano and eventually moved to New York to earn degrees from the Julliard School of Music. She also studied music in Europe and played violin in countries like Turkey, Greece, and Jordan, according to Inside Edition. She was a promising musician who was well liked by her friends and had a solid marriage.
Eerily, investigators quickly suspected it was someone who worked or had worked in the past for the Met, as access to the roof was possible only from "leaping off a high catwalk or walking through a maze of hallways leading to a single, unmarked door," The Washington Post reported. A team of detectives got to work interviewing the more than 800 people employed by the Met.
Some key clues eventually led to the capture of the person behind "The Phantom Of The Opera Murder" — including the specific way the knots used to retrain her were tied.
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