NEVER SAY DIE
The Relentless Pursuit of a Killer
|Detective Dennis Graul (left) and Special Agent Tim Creedon
It was a tragic accident. Two summers ago, Special Agent Tim Creedon from our Columbus, Ohio, office was riding his motorcycle when another driver ran into him and sped away. Creedon was critically injured and nearly bled to death; he later lost most of his left leg. He was eligible to retire, and most in his place would have done so. But not Creedon. He had one more case to finish with his partner Detective Dennis Graul…
There are two things that seemed to define Tommy Henderson’s life of crime. First, he liked to settle scores with a gun. Second, he didn’t like snitches or witnesses to his crimes. “Dead men tell no tales,” he would say.
In short, he thought he could get away with murder. And if it hadn’t been for two determined investigators, he just may well have.
Here’s the story, murder by murder.
- The first two murders. Henderson wanted revenge for a pistol-whipping he received at the hands of a man named Ron Beauford. When Henderson was released from an Ohio prison in May 1981, he sought out Beauford and shot him dead. Another man happened to be with Beauford at the time. He was a witness. So guess what? Henderson murdered him, too.
- The third murder. This one’s a bit complicated. Henderson was on his way to Florida with a woman named Ecolia Johnson. His mission? To kill someone who planned to testify against a colleague named Bobby Bass. But Henderson’s car broke down in Macon, Georgia. So he robbed a bank and hired two guys to drive him home. But Ecolia Johnson was a potential snitch; she’d been his getaway driver in the bank job. So he hired one of the guys—Stanley Humphrey—to kill her and the other guy—Ed Boyd. Humphrey agreed only to kill Boyd. Humphrey went to jail for the murder, but didn’t implicate Henderson. Guess why.
- The fourth murder. Meanwhile, we got a break investigating the Macon bank robbery. Atlanta Special Agent Gerald Jones, who used to work in Ohio, recognized Henderson in the bank surveillance photo. Ecolia Johnson, who had purchased a police scanner right before bank robbery, was also located and arrested. She implicated Henderson. So did Florida convict Bobby Bass. In October 1981, Henderson was convicted of the bank robbery…and as part of the case, pled guilty to another previous murder.
- The fifth and sixth murders. By August 1995, Henderson was out of prison, bent on revenge. After Bass got out of prison, Henderson shot him dead. Almost two years to the day later, he shot Ecolia Johnson four times as she left for work.
Case closed. Henderson was suspected in both murders, but no witnesses could be found, and the investigations were closed. His plan seemed to be working…
And back open. But Henderson landed in prison again in 2001 for drug, weapons, and other crimes. And that thirst for revenge couldn’t be quenched. This time, he wanted to get the Assistant U.S. Attorney, a former state prosecutor, who helped put him away. That got the FBI—and Columbus Special Agent Tim Creedon—involved, since we investigate threats against federal officials. Detective Dennis Graul of the Columbus Police Department Cold Case Squad also joined the case after meeting with a state prosecutor who suspected Henderson all along. Creedon and Graul began pulling the facts and evidence together.
The satisfying conclusion. Henderson found out he was being investigated and started making phone calls, which we recorded, yielding more clues and evidence. Reluctant witnesses were persuaded to step forward. After his motorcycle accident on June 26, 2005, Creedon asked and was allowed to stay on the case. Thanks largely to the hard work and persistence of the dueling investigators, Henderson was found guilty of murdering Bass and Johnson on June 26, 2007—two years to the day after the accident. Henderson was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
And one more footnote to our story. Agent Creedon will retire at the end of this month, after serving his country for nearly a quarter century…and sticking around to make sure that Tommy Henderson will never kill again.