In December 2018, Tanner Seals brutally murdered Helen McKinney (formerly Helen Hoover) in her home. Ms. McKinney’s family became concerned when she stopped responding to their calls and text messages. They had last seen her on Thanksgiving. When a family member went to check on Ms. McKinney they found her deceased body inside of her living room. Ms. McKinney had been severely beaten, her home was ransacked, and her car was missing.
With few leads, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Jeff Sargent and Rich Horn worked tirelessly to identify a suspect. In the weeks that followed, citizens reported seeing Ms. McKinney’s car in several locations throughout the greater Sacramento area. Multiple tips finally led EDSO to Tanner Seals, an El Dorado County probationer who had fled to Arizona and then Washington. In late January 2019, Washington State law enforcement officials arrested Seals on a probation violation warrant. Detectives Sargent and Horn interviewed Seals and he admitted to entering Ms. McKinney’s residence, stealing her personal belongings, and beating her with a metal pipe. He then left her residence with her belongings and her car.
Ms. McKinney devoted her life to the care of others. She raised her family in El Dorado County and worked locally as a nurse.
On May 10, 2021, the Honorable Kenneth Melikian sentenced Tanner Seals to 25 years to Life in state prison for the first-degree murder of Ms.McKinney. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Nora Hall.