Larry Henderson recalled the day in 1989 when he took a call at the Brownwood Police Department, where he worked in the records area. The caller reported finding a body along Indian Creek Road several miles south of Brownwood.
Amanda Goodman, 13, was dead of a gunshot. Her murder remains unsolved.
Henderson had no way of knowing his own family would be victimized a few years later by a long-unsolved murder. His father, Bill Henderson, was found dead on May 16, 1991, in his home in Washburn, near Amarillo. The 65-year-old man — gentle, soft-spoken and in poor health, with heart disease and emphysema — had been beaten and strangled.
The murder was unsolved until the Potter-Randall Special Crimes Unit reopened the case in December 2005, according to articles published in the Amarillo Globe-News and Plainview Herald newspapers.
Investigators found a witness who had been overlooked, and information from the witness led them to Lawrence Tutt, who was in prison in Ohio for robbery and escape. He was also convicted in a 1998 murder in New York, the newspapers reported.
Tutt was indicted in Henderson’s murder in July 2006. Twenty-three days ago, Tutt pleaded guilty in a plea bargain in an Armstrong County courthouse and was sentenced to 45 years in prison, the newspapers reported.
He’ll have to serve Ohio and New York prison sentences before he serves time in a Texas prison, the newspapers reported.
Henderson and his wife Eydie were among numerous family members who attended Tutt’s sentencing.
“Actually, it does (bring closure), knowing the person who killed my dad is behind bars,” said Henderson, who now works as the sales manager at Bruner Toyota.
Henderson’s wife, Eydie, still refers to her late father-in-law as “Papa.” Seeing the case solved, and the killer sentenced, was a “big relief” for the family, Eydie Henderson said.
“He was ‘Papa’ to all of us,” Larry Henderson said.
Henderson recalled the day he was at work at the Brownwood Police Department in 1991 when news of the murder reached Brownwood. “Sgt. Salazar called me aside and told me what happened,” Henderson said.
“My dad was home alone. “It is a really hard blow to the family when you lose a senior member of your family, the wise one. It was like, ‘why?’”
“It was devastating,” Eydie Henderson said.
The murder was featured on the television show “Unsolved Mysteries.” The Hendersons’ daughter, Chioe, then 16, played the part of her cousin, one of the family members who found Bill Henderson’s body.
As the murder remained unsolved, Larry Henderson thought his father’s killer was going to get away with it. “Years go by and nothing happens, nothing happens …”
He learned that detectives would pray together about solving the case. A phone number that had not been followed up on in the original investigation led investigators to Tutt’s parents, and then to Tutt, who was in prison in Ohio, Henderson said.
At the sentencing, one side of the courtroom was filled with Henderson family members. “It was totally empty for (Tutt) over there” on the other side of the courtroom, Henderson said.
Eydie Henderson said the family held up well in the courtroom until a family member read an impact statement. “You ended his life because you wanted a vehicle and money. It didn’t matter to you that he had a wife, children and grandchildren who loved him,” the statement read.
“I thought he would kind of say ’I’m sorry. Please forgive me,’” Henderson said.
Tutt, however, said nothing to the Henderson family, and he did not look at them. “I don’t know what his true feelings were,” he said.
Henderson said he has been able to forgive the man. “If I didn’t have the Bible as my background, I would be bitter and angry,” he said.
He said the fact that his father’s murder was solved after so many years gives him hope that Amanda Goodman’s murder will some day be solved.