Real Name: E.J. Henderson
Location: Washburn, Texas
Date: May 16, 1991
Details: On May 12, 1991, sixty-six-year-old Washburn, Texas resident Bill Henderson said goodbye to his wife, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter as they left to go on a trip to visit relatives in Austin, 400 miles away. Bill's failing health prevented him from going on the trip. He stayed in touch with family members for the next three days.
However, when his son Garry was unable to get a hold of him for a day, he decided to check on him. Garry, his brother-in-law Frank, and Frank's stepdaughter Sheri went to Bill's home on May 16. They were concerned when they noticed that his pickup truck was gone. Inside, they found the phone off the hook. While walking down a hallway, Garry found his father's glasses laying on the floor, apparently broke. Looking in his bedroom, he found him dead. Bill had suffered a brutal, horrific beating, and the assailant used an electric iron. He had also been strangled. He had died at least eight hours before he was found. Along with his truck, his wallet were also missing.
Five days later, his wallet was found by a man walking along Interstate 40, about ninety miles east of Amarillo. The next day, his truck was found abandoned in Chicago, more than 1000 miles away. Investigators soon learned of a strange encounter and two witnesses who may have spent the day with the killer.
On the day of the murder, two hitchhikers and an unidentified man entered a truck stop near Oklahoma City, 260 miles from Washburn. The nervous hitchhikers told the truck stop attendant that the pickup truck that they were in had been stolen by the third man. The third man made a phone call and then used the restroom. During this time, the attendant contacted the police and gave them the license plate number.
However, since it had not yet been reported stolen, there was nothing that the police could do. The problem was that at the time, Bill's body had not been found, so nobody knew that the truck was stolen. Fifteen minutes later, the third man left; the hitchhikers refused to go with him. The two then decided to call the police, but again, they could not do anything because the truck was not reported missing. The two hitchhikers left soon afterward, without leaving their names or addresses.
Not long after, Bill's body was found. A bloody palm print was found in his room, and is the one of the only keys to the identity of his killer, along with the hitchhikers. Neither the suspect nor the hitchhikers have been identified.
Suspects: Two hitchhikers spent several hours with the perpetrator. He was described as twenty-five-years-old, 6'1", with a husky build, and his hair tied in several ponytails.
Police would also like to speak again with the hitchhikers, in hopes of obtaining more information about the suspect.
Extra Notes: The original airdate for this case was May 17, 1992.
Results: Solved. On the night of the broadcast, the hitchhikers, who were cousins, came forward and contacted the telecenter. Soon after, they were given hypnosis in hopes of identifying the killer. However, they were unable to give enough information to identify a suspect.
In December 2005, police re-opened the case and located a witness who had been overlooked in the initial investigation. Initially, investigators believed that the phone the suspect made at the truck stop was to a shelter. However, during the new investigation, they found that the suspect had actually called a residence. The owner of the residence told them about a roommate that lived with her in 1991.
The roommate claimed that she had received the call from the suspect; she said that his first name was "Larry" and that he lived in a town near a lake in New York. She said the town's name started with an "S" and sounded strange. Investigators were able to identify the town as Skaneateles, New York. Through this, they were able to identify a possible suspect, Lawrence W. "Larry" Tutt.
Tutt was a transient and a known criminal who was in custody in Ohio on an escape charge. DNA evidence and the palm print connected him to the crime scene. In July 2006, he was indicted for Bill's murder. In November 2007, he pleaded guilty to murder and was later sentenced to forty-five years in prison. However, he is already serving time in New York for the unrelated 1998 arson and murder of William Frietag. He will have to complete a twenty-five year sentence there before he will be taken to Texas. Tutt is currently suspected of other murders and may possibly be a serial killer.
- Suspect named in '91 killing
- Man admits to 16-year-old murder
- Slaying of Henderson's father near Amarillo finally solved