Yesterday I expressed in mild, respectful and polite terms our family’s concerns that the investigation into Henry’s death was perhaps not being pursued as vigorously as it could be by the authorities. We have felt that way since the day he was admitted to the hospital with injuries from a physical assault and a drug overdose, as well as severe brain damage from the fact that those who watched him OD declined to call 911 for hours, even as he became unconscious and began aspirating his own vomit.
I am disappointed that since that time, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office chose to release a statement in response to media coverage of Henry’s death in which they stated that the “preliminary investigation shows no evidence of homicide as a result of an assault.”
As a mother who has lost a child, it is certainly tempting to get into a point by point refutation of KCSO’s statement; I won’t do this however, because I do not wish to sully or interfere with their ongoing investigation. Suffice it to say, however, that the “preliminary investigation” to which they refer has been extremely disappointing at this point despite my own active efforts in following leads, talking extensively with witnesses, and BEGGING authorities to follow leads I’ve provided. Let me also say that as I sit here next to my dead son’s medical records that refer to “assault,” “skull fracture,” closed head injury,” etc it’s hard for me to understand reasoning that assumes at this point that the assault he DID experience in the 24 hours preceding his ER admission has no relevance to their investigation.
The circumstances of Henry’s death are admittedly complex from a medical and investigatory standpoint. It’s not as cut and dried as if someone had shot him or stabbed him. The circumstances involve a number of discrete medical factors and activity by sveral different individals, EACH of which must be fully investigated before any conclusions – preliminary or otherwise – can be reached. I respect that this is a difficult and time consuming process for the officers involved, and I hope and expect that they will do the very best job they can going forward. It is extremely tempting to share everything our family knows about the 24 hour period before Henry was taken nearly lifeless to UT Medical Center that day. If I shared these details publicly at this time, however, it would make the investigators’ jobs more difficult and perhaps sully the criminal charges we expect to arise. But it’s hard not to tell people what we know when KCSO is releasing statements like the one they put out yesterday.
Let me be clear: ALL WE WANT IS A TRULY THOROUGH, SKILLED AND COMPREHENSIVE INVESTIGATION. The outcome isn’t up to us. We are not demanding arrests or convictions. We are asking for a really top-notch investigation by professionals who seem to care what really happened. I will not rest until I feel confident that every lead has been followed to its completion. I understand that my son’s addiction and the behaviors around that addiction will be exposed fully by such an investigation. We have made it clear to the investigator that we understand and accept this. Henry’s addiction did not define him, and at 18, any poor choices he had made were ones from which he could have recovered amd moved away from.
My son was not a throwaway addict. He was a special, brilliant, loving son, big brother, cousin, nephew, grandson and friend. Please know that.
If any members of the media would like to discuss this case with our family, which we encourage, please contact our attorney. Don Bosch.
UPDATE: Thanks to Les Jones for blogging about Henry’s case today.
UPDATE: In response to some commenters on the stories about Henry in various news outlets today, I want to clear something up once and for all regarding the issue of why Henry did not “provide a statement” to investigators during the 38 days he was hospitalized before his death.
For the record, following his admittance to the ER on April 27th, my son was never again able to speak more than 2-3 words – and that took terrific effort. “Doing better” for him meant a two week period in the middle of his 38 day ordeal when he was moved from UT to St. Mary’s neurological rehabilitation unit, still unable to walk, communicate clearly or feed himself. He could not read or write. This was indeed an “improvement” from the two previous weeks when he was close to death. Unfortunately, his brain injury then deteriorated further and he was readmitted to UT’s ICU from St. Mary’s, where he died on Monday, speechless and voiceless. My son was never capable of giving a meaningful statement – written or verbal – to anyone following his admittance to the hospital on April 27; his brain injury was too severe and any one of his neurologists would (and will) confirm this. However, if it meant getting some progress on an investigation, we were certainly willing to have the KCSO come and try to talk to him, as I clearly told the KCSO investigator after he told me that unless Henry could speak directly to him, then “there is no victim.” After he told me that, I told him to come immediately, any time. I knew he wouldn’t be able to have a meaningful conversation with Henry, who was barely able to speak, but I didn’t want the investigators saying we were preventing them from speaking to Henry. We (it was his doctor’s idea) even offered to have a speech therapist present to try to help facilitate the interview to the extent it could help KCSO in their investigation. No one ever came to talk with him in those 38 days, although I do believe the detective came by the hospital one time while Henry was away from his room having an MRI. He never returned.