Created on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 Written by THE BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER STAFF
'Examiner' stories related to the 1999 murders included.
LUCAS COUNTY — A convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence for killing four people in Sidney nearly 14 years ago has been indicted for yet another murder, this one in the facility where he is incarcerated.
A Lucas County grand jury on Monday indicted Lawrence Michael Hensley, 43, formerly of Sidney, in the strangulation of inmate Bradley L. Hamlin, 24, formerly of Mantua, according to various reports.
He is currently serving four life sentences plus 80 additional years in the July 1999 deaths of three teenagers and a Bible study teacher in Sidney.
During the shooting spree at his home, he also wounded a Russells Point area woman, who later escaped the residence.
At the time, the county prosecutor told The Blade newspaper in Toledo that it was one of the worst murders officials had ever seen.
He was convicted of four counts of aggravated murder, three counts of kidnapping and three counts of attempted aggravated murder.
Relating to Hamlin’s death, the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated the incident that occurred during September 2012 at the Toledo Correctional Institution.
Hamlin was found unresponsive in Hensley’s cell and died two days later at St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center in Toledo.
According to an incident report, “the victim/inmate was attacked by three suspects inside a cell.” The names of the other inmates believed to have been involved were not made available.
Lucas County Deputy Coroner Dr. Diane Barnett reported that the death was a result of strangulation and has been ruled a homicide. Hamlin also had sustained injuries to his arms and legs, which indicated that he had been restrained, Barnett said.
In November 2011, Hamlin began a 60-month sentence for burglary, breaking and entering and theft out of Portage and Cuyahoga counties.
Following Hamlin’s death, Hensley was transferred from the Toledo prison to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Hensley also has a conviction for a 2007 felonious assault inside the prison.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a series of stories that appeared in July 1999 editions of the Bellefontaine Examiner about then-multiple murder suspect Lawrence Michael Hensley who was indicted Monday for strangling a fellow inmate in September at the Toledo Correctional Institution. Hensley was serving four life sentences plus 80 additional years in the 1999 slayings of three teenagers and a Bible study teacher and the wounding of a fifth person, a Russells Point woman, in Shelby County.
From the Friday, July 9, 1999, edition of the Examiner:
Four shot dead in Sidney
Russells Point woman listed in serious condition
By JOEL E. MAST
Examiner Staff Writer
Local law officers were on the look out Friday for a Sidney man wanted by authorities in the deaths of three teenage girls and another man.
Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Lawrence Michael Hensley, 30.
One of the victims, Veronica Eagy, 22, of Russells Point, survived the shooting and was found at 5:15 p.m. outside the suspect’s Sidney home. She had been shot multiple times.
A spokeswoman for the Miami Valley Hospital reported Ms. Eagy was in serious condition today.
Deputies here checked her residence at 11:10 p.m. and on the welfare of her three young children and their babysitter. Deputies were told Ms. Eagy went to the Hensley home after the suspect promised to give her money.
Mr. Hensley works in Bellefontaine, and his family in the area, according to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office.
Glacier-Daido’s Jeff Wheeler, acting on behalf of Plant Manager Jerry Butler, confirmed that Mr. Hensley was an employee in good standing with the bearing manufacturer.
Mr. Wheeler did not know how long the suspect had been an employee.
Mr. Wheeler said further information regarding the suspect’s employment would have to come from Mr. Butler who was out of the office until Wednesday.
Logan County Jail records show served 17 days of a 30-day sentence for indecent exposure in 1996. The charge was filed by Indian Lake State Park Rangers.
Sidney Police Chief Steven Wearly today said the gunman knew the three girls. Although authorities do not know a motive, the shooting were not random, he said.
“This was done with some purpose,” Chief Wearly said in an interview.
Ms. Eagy said she got out of the house by breaking a window in the basement.
She identified Hensley as the gunman and said he had left the house with his wife in the family car.
The woman also told police two other victims were inside. Officers found the third victim, age 14, latter, hidden in the basement.
Two of the teenage girls were shot to death in the home that is situated in a quiet Sidney neighborhood and a 37-year-old man was killed a short time later outside the city limits on Stephens Road in Shelby County.
Two girls, ages 16 and 17, were found dead in a bedroom. Both appeared to have been shot and may have had other injuries, Wearly said, but would not describe the other injuries.
The 14-year-old appeared to be stabbed, he said.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said Brett R. Wildermuth was shot in his house about a half-hour after the first shootings were reported at 5:16 p.m. Thursday.
The names of the other victims had not been released.
Mr. Hensley’s wife, Julie, was at the Stephen’s Road home and left to report the shooting.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department said Mr. Hensley was believe to be heavily armed and was considered extremely dangerous. He was driving a purple 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier. Deputies believe he has four rifles, a .44-caliber gun and a .357-caliber gun.
Neighbors of Mr. Wildermuth told the Dayton Daily News the man and his family belonged to Mr. Hensley’s church, the First Church of God.
Sidney police said they believed the teenage girls attended the same Bible class.
Late Thursday, the U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit was called in to detonate bombs in the back yard of Mr. Hensley’s house.
Police said fire bombs and Molotov cocktails were found in the garage and residence.
Neighbors said they heard three loud booms.
“It made my house shake,” said Don Leckey.
(Some reports courtesy of The Associated Press)
From Saturday, July 10, 1999, edition of Examiner:
Manhunt for suspected murderer continues
Hensley may have used cash machine in Kentucky
From LOCAL, AP Reports
Friday evening, the manhunt for Lawrence Michael Hensley, 30, suspected of killing four Sidney residents and wounding a Russells Point woman, continued in surrounding states.
Authorities said the suspect fled in his car and might have had several guns, including four rifles.
“We don’t know where he is at this point, a dispatcher with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, who would not give her name said Friday night.
“Almost every officer that works here is out and about.”
The sheriff’s department sent teletypes to several other states to warn police to be on the look out for Hensley, she said.
An officer of the Harlan City Police Department in Kentucky reported that Mr. Hensley may possibly be in Black Mountains, some 15 to 18 miles outside of the city limit.
Authorities with the Kentucky State Police said Hensley, who has family in Harlan County, Ky., used an automatic teller machine card in London, Ky., on Friday.
Sometime around 5:15 p.m. Thursday, 22-year-old Veronica Eagy, of Russells Point, Sherry Kimbler, 16, a neighbor of Mr. Hensley, and Miss Kimbler’s cousin, Tosha L. Barrett, 16, were allegedly lured to the Sidney, one-story white frame house of Mr. Hensley where the shootings began.
Ms. Eagy, who was shot in the legs and shoulder, escaped the Hensley house by breaking a basement window, police said.
“I saw her coming across the alley and crawling in the neighbor’s back yard,” said Donald Young, 85, who lives one house away from the Hensleys. “She just kind of pulled herself up through the yard.”
She then identified Hensley as the gunman and left the house with his wife in their purple Chevy Cavalier.
Ms. Eagy was taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton where she was listed in serious condition Friday night, a nursing supervisor said.
Sidney City Police Capt. Dean Kimpel said they believe the victims were shot before Julie Hensley, the suspect’s wife, arrived home and that she did not know bodies were there.
The couple then drove to the home of Brett R. Wildermuth, where Mrs. Hensley reports that her husband proceeded to shoot his 37-year-old Bible Study teacher.
Mrs. Hensley remained at the scene of the final reported shooting and was cooperating with police, Capt. Kimpel said.
The body of another 14-year-old Sidney girl, Amy Mikesell, was later found stabbed and hidden in the basement of the Hensley home.
The Rev. Ben David, pastor of the First Church of God in Sidney, said, “He would have no reason to have contact with Mike or even to help Mike if it wasn’t for his faith in Christ.”
“Mike went to him for help,” he continued.
The Rev. Davis said Mr. Hensley, a church member for about a year, had problems in the past, but he would not elaborate.
“He certainly wanted to break from his past,” the pastor said.
Lisa Perin, 31, who used to go on jobs with Mr. Hensley when they both worked for a cleaning service, called him weird.
“He made us stop one night to look at road kill on the road,” said Mrs. Perin, who lives across the street from the Hensleys. “He thought that was so fascinating. He started talking about taking parts out of the animal.
“He thought it would be neat to hurt somebody and watch them die.”
Her husband Al Perin, 52, said he often saw people with shaved heads, tattoos and body piercings going in and out of the house.
On Saturday, he saw Mr. Hensley in the street, screaming at someone in the house and threatening to kill the person, Mr. Perin said.
Another neighbor, Donna Parisse, 24, saw a different side.
“He seemed like a very nice guy. He was always working out in his yard, riding his bike,” she said.
He once found some money and brought it to her house across the street to see if it belonged to her, Parisse said.
“I never felt uncomfortable around him.”
Mr. Hensley has worked third shift at the Glacier Daido America plant in Bellefontaine for about two years and is an employee in good standing, said Jeff Wheeler, quality assurance manager.
Further information from officials of the Sidney Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office regarding the investigation will be released this morning at a 9:30 a.m. press conference.
From Monday, July 12, 1999, edition of Examiner:
Sidney, church search for answers
Suspected murderer still on the loose
From AP REPORTS
SIDNEY — While police searched hundreds of miles away for the man they believe killed three teenagers and his Bible Study teacher, a churchwide family that earlier this year took in the suspect continued its own search — for answers.
The First Church of God is still reeling from the quadruple killing the robbed the church of its Bible Study teacher, Brett Wildermuth, and three teenage girls, the suspect’s neighbor, Sherry Kimbler, 16, her cousin Tosha Barrett, 16, and a friend, Amy Mikesell, 14.
Church members Sunday prayed not only for the slain, but also for the suspected killer, 30-year-old Lawrence “Mike” Hensley, who had prayed with them in recent months, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Police believe Hensley killed the girls in his home Thursday afternoon, injured Veronica Eagy, 22, and shot and killed Wildermuth at the teacher’s home outside Sidney. Eagy remained in fair condition at Miami Valley Hospital with gunshot wounds to her legs and shoulder.
The police search for Hensley continued to focus on southeastern Kentucky counties around Harlan, where Hensley has relatives.
Kentucky State Police say the suspect used an automated teller machine card Friday in London, Ky., more than 200 miles from Sidney in southeast Kentucky. They also say he has family in the area, but he hasn’t been spotted.
Meanwhile, there were few empty seats Sunday at the First Church of God, and even fewer dry eyes.
“We pray for Mike,” the Rev. Ben Davis said in a soft voice. “We have to pray for Mike. And yet we don’t know how.”
Church members were told that Hensley’s wife, Julie, who police say went with him to pray with Wildermuth not realizing three girls were dead in the Hensleys’ home, is being kept under police protection.
A middle-age church member stood during the service and asked members to write letters of support to Mrs. Hensley. “She needs to know she is loved,” Davis agreed.
Next installment: ‘Suspected killer captured after standoff; Hensley taken into custody in Sidney’
From Tuesday, July 13, 1999, edition of the Examiner:
Suspected killer captured after standoff
Hensley taken into custody in Sidney
By JAMES HANNAH
Associated Press Writer
SIDNEY — A man suspected of killing three teenage girls and his Bible Study teacher surrendered early today after a two-hour standoff with police at a gas station.
Lawrence Michael Hensley, 30, gave up around 5 a.m., ending the standoff in which a clerk and two customers were held hostage at a gas station in Shelby County, Sheriff Mark Schemmel said.
Hensley was charged with four counts of aggravated murder in an appearance before Sidney Municipal Court Judge Don Luce in a tiny jail courtroom. Luce ordered him to be held on $1 million cash bond, an amount Shelby County Prosecutor James Stevenson requested based on the “nature of the charges” and his flight from the jurisdiction.
Hensley, his legs shackled and wearing a blue bulletproof vest over his orange jail jumpsuit, said nothing and showed no emotion. He was freshly shaven around his goatee, and had an icy stare.
Police haven’t offered a specific motive for the killings, but the auto parts factory worker was by some accounts a troubled man.
The Dayton Daily News reported he was convicted twice in four years for public indecency and neighbors said he paid girls and young women to watch him masturbate. His pastor, The Rev. Ben Davis, said Hensley had been involved in devil worship, but was trying to mend his ways.
No hostages were injured in today’s standoff. But Hensley was considered a suspect in an apparently unprovoked shooting before 3 a.m. of a motorist on I-75 less than 10 miles away from where he was captured. Schemmel said a 47-year-old man was wounded and was in serious condition at a hospital, the sheriff said.
Four minutes after the highway shooting, Hensley went to the home of a church acquaintance in the nearby town of Anna and demanded to be allowed in. Schemmel said he was denied entry and left without incident.
The standoff began later after a police officer spotted Hensley driving erratically in the same purple car he fled in after the shootings Thursday, police Lt. Rod Austin said. The officer followed Hensley to the gas station, which police then surrounded.
Police reached Hensley via phone and “were able to talk him out,” said Andy Grzelewski, the station manager.
But the exchange led police to fear Hensley’s car contained explosives, Austin said. Two dozen Molotov cocktails had been found in his basement after the killings. Police blocked off the area, with the help of numerous tractor-trailers, for more than three hours until the car could be towed away from the gas tanks to an empty lot.
No explosives were found in the car, Austin said.
On Thursday, the bodies of Sherry Kimbler, 16, a neighbor of the Hensleys’, Tosha Barrett, 16, Kimbler’s cousin, and Amy Mikesell, 14, were discovered in the Hensleys’ home after a 22-year-old woman who had been shot escaped from the house. The wounded woman, Veronica Eagy, was listed in fair condition today at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
Brett Wildermuth, 37, Hensley’s Bible Study teacher, was found shot at his home just outside of Sidney.
Police say they believe that Hensley killed the girls and then drove with his wife, Julie Hensley, to the Wildermuth’s house for a prayer session. Wildermuth already knew bodies had been found at Hensley’s house, and when he said so, Hensley got a gun from his car and shot Wildermuth, according to Davis, who said he got the information from people directly involved with the case.
Mrs. Hensley called for help and has been in protective custody since. Davis said she did not know of the slayings at her house, and was told by her husband that they had to flee because an occult group he had belonged to was coming to kill him.
Schemmel said it wasn’t known if Hensley had returned to Sidney today from elsewhere or had been in the area all along. But his car plates had been changed to Illinois plates, Austin said.
At Wildermuth’s funeral Monday, Kevin Wildermuth told the gathering that Mrs. Hensley had knelt beside his brother after he was shot and begged him not to die.
Brett looked up to her and said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be OK,” said Wildermuth, his voice breaking several times during the funeral. “I don’t know if I can get through today without those words.”
An estimated 400 people crowded into the church for the two-hour funeral, walking past photo displays of Brett Wildermuth, his wife, and three young children. Many chose to watch the funeral by way of video camera in a nearby room, which was set aside to handle the overflow crowd.
Davis said the slayings have resulted in pain, questions and resentment.
“But do not sit here and listen to questions of why,” he said. “God runs to us today to comfort us and give us strength. And we need that desperately.”