Officials say murder investigation gets personal

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The longer it takes to find out who killed a local man earlierthis year, the more personal the search for his killer becomes forthose who have worked tirelessly on the case at the Lincoln CountySheriff’s Department, one investigator said.

Travis Henderson, 27, went missing Jan. 7 of this year, and hisremains were found March 19 on a rural logging road in thenortheast corner of the county months after his car was found justa few miles away.

“It’s partially challenging because of the circumstances of thedifferent crime scenes,” said Chief Deputy Johnny Hall, who hasspearheaded the investigation since day one. “I look at the casefiles every day, trying to find a loophole, or something I haven’tnoticed in the cell phone records, or someone we haven’t talked to.It’s fair to say I’m taking this personally.”

Henderson’s car was found at the intersection of Bahalia Road andSunset Road in the Lake Lincoln area one day before Henderson’sfamily reported him missing. The investigation that began as amissing persons investigation became a death investigation, then ahomicide investigation after his body was found by a deputy onThorn Trail, a rarely-traveled logging cut-through road.

Hall said while there have been setbacks and obstacles to overcomein the probe to this point, sheriff’s department officials arestill exploring every lead, no matter how small.

“We’ve talked to a lot of people, including a few allegedsuspects,” he said. “This investigation is definitely ongoing. Wehave not forgotten about Travis Henderson.”

The fact is, Hall said, that someone knows something they haven’ttold yet, and it’s a possibility that they don’t realize whatthey’ve seen. At this stage of the game, every lead is worthexploring.

“The last person that saw him was one of his friends, and then hewas reported missing, and somebody had to see him in betweenthere,” Hall said. “Somebody did something to him in thattime.”

Hall said the sheriff’s department is working with BrookhavenPolice Department on possible leads as to the identity ofHenderson’s killer. One thing all the authorities agree on is thatHenderson was murdered by someone who knew him.

“Chief (Pap) Henderson and I have been out to where he was found,and talked about some of our leads,” he said. “It’s fair to saythis was done by someone that knew him.”

While sometimes witnesses are skittish about talking to the policefor fear of their identities being revealed, Hall said they need toremember that they can also call Crimestoppers, which allowsanonymous tips. The tipster is given an identification number, andif their information leads to solving the case, they can call backwith their identification number to be told where to pick up theirreward.

But, Hall said, anyone with any information should feel protectedand comfortable sharing it with authorities, whether throughCrimestoppers or in person.

“If you’re not comfortable talking to Crimestoppers, you can callhere and they’ll put you through to my cell phone any time of theday or night,” he said. “We just want people to know we want tohear from them. The smallest thing could be a big break in thiscase.”

He said more than just solving the crime for justice’s sake, hewants to bring peace to Travis Henderson’s family.

“We need to get this case closed to give the victim’s family someclosure and some answers,” he said.

Officials have asked that anyone with information on thedisappearance and death of Henderson call the Lincoln CountySheriff’s Office at (601) 833-5231. Anyone wishing to remainanonymous is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (601) 823-0150.