One Year Later
By Becky Holzinger
- Dedicated to Alice Johnson and Ruth Cooper -
(Reprinted from LIP, May 1982)
We have now totally ruled out the theory of racial motivation, said Captain Luther Henry, head of detectives. Hes [ ] admitted that whoever did this acted out of retaliation. Henderson Theres a pretty good indication that he knew his assailants.
(Luther Henry, quoted in the Philadelphia Tribune, May 12, 1981.)
It was one year ago on the last evening in April.
Robert Henderson was working on his car in an alley behind Garden Court Apartments. He left around 9:30 and by 11:00 he was walking south on in the vicinity of the Wonder Bar. Prince Street
A van with three men inside pulled up beside him. The men asked for directions. At least one, and possibly all three, pulled guns. One was a .44 caliber revolver.
The men forced to enter the van. Henderson They asked him his name.
When he said his nickname was Sonny, one of them said, Youre the right one.
They called him a black nigger. They told him all the obscene things they were going to do to him as a black man.
They drove down to Prince Street and made a right. Hazel Street Halfway down the first block of Hazel, they parked the van somewhere near the Miller Trash and Waste Yard.
was forced into the trash yard and down to a shed. Henderson He was forced to undress except for his shirt and shoes. His clothes were neatly hung on a hook in the shed.
The men greased the hook of a nearby crane with cream from a container of Jergens hand cream.
They tried to hand from the crane hook by his rectum. Henderson
managed to get away. Henderson He hit one of the three men with a piece of metal he picked up.
He ran out of the junkyard and up towards Hazel Street where the Friendly Greek was open. Prince Street
He didnt make it.
The men caught him and took him down to the Henry E. Martin and Sons trucking company lot. Mill Street
doesnt remember all that happened next. Henderson He blacked out for a time.
In a dark, remote corner of one of the buildings is a fuel tank surrounded by old tires and trash. It stands less than knee-high, located where the ground slopes down to the railroad tracks.
With the same Jergens hand cream they greased the seven inch long, three inch round vent pipe of the fuel tank.
They forced onto it by his rectum. Henderson The men pounded and pounded down on it. Henderson He was fully impaled.