Murder victim’s mother says son’s life taken over money and phone

Published 9:44 pm Sunday, February 10, 2019

When Lula Henry’s youngest child graduated from high school, it was “the greatest day in the world,” she said.

An adult associated with the school had once told Evan Henry he wouldn’t be able to graduate, Lula Henry said. He was dyslexic and struggled with reading through elementary and middle school.

To prove that adult wrong, Evan Henry worked hard to get through his classes at Provine High School in Jackson. By the time graduation day came, he had more credits than he needed and “the biggest smile” on his face, Lula Henry said.

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“He did everything they said he wouldn’t do,” she said.

At 23 years old, Evan Henry was shot and killed on Jan. 1. Police believe robbery was the motive. He was one of Jackson’s first homicide victims this year.

He leaves behind two girls and one boy, ages 1 to 5.

Thirteen years ago Lula Henry lost her oldest son — who Evan Henry adored as a role model — to a random act of violence when he was helping rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While she and her husband, Ira Henry, used to have five children living — four sons and one daughter — they are now left with three.

“We don’t know our time, but we’re not supposed to be burying our children. Our children are supposed to be burying us,” she said.

The death of her youngest child was both all-too-familiar and an unimaginable tragedy.

“I thought I was dreaming,” she said. “I still think I’m dreaming sometimes.”

Sitting in the living room of her house in west Jackson more than three weeks after his death, Lula Henry was absorbed in memories of her son.

Some made her laugh: The way Evan Henry pounded on the door and pressed his face directly on the glass panes to be let in whenever he came to visit. When he rushed into the kitchen while she was cooking to pick her up in his arms. How he liked to show off by doing backwards flips.

The last time she saw her son was the day after Christmas. He was getting ready to take a trip to Atlanta with his fiancée, Lula Henry said.

She said goodbye the way she always did: “I love you and be safe.”

Evan Henry returned to Jackson late on New Year’s Eve. The next day, he was killed.

Lula Henry said she was laughing with her husband while he cleaned chitterlings in the kitchen when she felt a sharp pain in her chest.

Soon after, they got the call about their son.

“When we got there all I could see was blue lights and yellow tape,” she said. “I jumped out and started running.”

“Where is my baby?” she remembers yelling.
“They told me, ‘He’s gone.'”

As of Jan. 28, the homicide count in Jackson totaled 11 for the year.

The previous year, Jackson saw 84 homicides, making 2018 one of the deadliest years on record.

Evan Henry was the first to be shot and killed this year, but he was not the only homicide victim to die on Jan. 1. Earlier that day, Demarcus Harris, 32, succumbed to a gunshot wound he sustained in December. Investigators initially thought the wound was self-inflicted. His girlfriend was later charged with murder.

Police said shortly before 9:30 p.m., Evan Henry was shot in the 1100 block of West Pearl Street — next to his home, his mother said. Officers found him lying on the ground between two residences. He was unresponsive and was later declared dead at the scene.

Investigators believe the motive was robbery, Sgt. Roderick Holmes said.

Lula Henry said both of her son’s car doors were open when police arrived. Evan Henry’s pockets were turned inside out, she said. Someone took all the money he had with him and his brand new phone.

“He would have given them money, he would have given them his cellphone. They didn’t have to shoot him,” she said.

“When they shot him in the chest, it hit his heart,” she said. “He had a good heart, Lord have mercy.”

In hindsight, Lula Henry believes she felt the sharp chest pain at the same time her son was shot.

Evan Henry hated bullies, she said. In middle school, he made friends with a couple of kids who were getting picked on.

“He chose to be friends with them, knowing what they were going through,” she said.

The bullies left them alone after that, she said.

He enjoyed making people laugh and helping others.

“He was just a lovable person. He loved having a good time — partying, dancing. He loved dancing. I bet he danced in his sleep,” Lula Henry said.

Evan Henry was also close with his father. She said they liked to go fishing at the reservoir.

When they brought catfish back, Lula Henry would fry it up for the family.

Evan Henry was “the best” dad, Lula Henry said.

Her son loved spending time with his children. He took them with him to the store and to parks, she said.

“Taking care of business, he always had children on his lap,” she said.

In the years since high school, Evan Henry worked different jobs. He was a driver for Pizza Hut and he worked with his father, a mechanic. He also traveled to out-of-town flea markets to buy things at a discount, then resell them at a higher value.

At the time of his death, Evan Henry had recently bought a car and was thinking about moving, his mother said. He was engaged, but didn’t have a wedding date set yet.

Holmes said as of Jan. 29, no one had been arrested for killing Evan Henry. Police were made aware of “persons of interest,” he said, and the investigation is ongoing.

“I pray that they find the person that did this,” Lula Henry said.