The Norman Transcript

January 30, 2014

Victim’s family wants justice

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — As the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the death of woman in Newalla, the woman’s family is speaking up in an attempt to find out the truth behind her death.

Melissa Henderson, 35, died Jan. 12 after being run over by a Suburban the night before in front of her boyfriend’s Newalla home. Sheriff officials confirmed that her boyfriend was driving the vehicle when Henderson was run over.

The boyfriend is currently on probation after being convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Oklahoma County.

The incident is being investigated as a traffic collision, said Meghan McCormick, sheriff’s office spokeswoman. As they continue the investigation, detectives are waiting on reports from the Medical Examiner’s Office and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, she said.

Deputies responded to a report of an injured person around 6:30 p.m. Jan 11 in the 17000 block of Blueridge Road West when they found Henderson. She was transported to the OU Medical Center, where she underwent surgery but was pronounced dead the next day.

“I think (her boyfriend) told the officer when he came out there that he bumped her,” said Henderson’s great-aunt, Brenda Rogers. “But she had a torn aorta, crushed pelvis, life sustaining injuries. She was brain dead when she was brought to the hospital.”

Henderson’s mother, Barbara Miller, said she heard that the boyfriend had put the vehicle in drive, then put it in reverse, backed up and heard Henderson scream. Another story circulating was that Henderson was pepper spraying her boyfriend before the incident.

“She would not have been behind the vehicle if she was pepper spraying him,” Miller said.

Henderson’s friends and family said the couple was fighting the night before the incident and the day she was run over.

“The night before, she called me up and she was crying. She was upset because (her boyfriend) was threatening to do all kinds of things to her,” said Henderson’s friend, Jeremy Maples. “He’d burned her with cigarettes and she said in the past, he tased her with a taser.”

Maples said he wanted to help but didn’t have transportation to pick up Henderson and couldn’t find a way to get her. The next day, she called crying again, saying he was threatening her again. But, again, Maples had no way to get to her.

“We’ve known each other since we were kids. We grew up on the same block,” Maples said. “The last time I heard from her was around 10 or 11 that morning.”

Miller said her daughter called about five people that day that she knows of, and each phone call was the same.

“Help me. Help, I need out. Every phone call she made, she was trying to get out of there,” Miller said.

The last phone call the family knows of was around 6:13 p.m. to Henderson’s brother. By 8:30 p.m., Miller said the boyfriend was calling them and telling them she was in an accident.

“He’s on the scene of the investigation. He’s walking around with his phone,” Miller said. “Why was he allowed during that kind of investigation to be making phone calls?”

Miller said the boyfriend also has had several domestic violence charges filed against him, but they had been dismissed. Court records show her statement is accurate.

“They’re making it sound like it was a tragic accident. Accident my foot,” Miller said.

When the family wanted to get Henderson’s personal items from Newalla, trouble with an investigating detective started. Miller said when she asked the detective about getting her daughter’s possessions, the detective told her the boyfriend’s father would have to be there when they did.

Miller said when the detective said the boyfriend’s father’s name, the detective sounded friendly, as if he knew the father personally. When she asked the detective if he knew the boyfriend and his family, Miller said the detective called her, asking her what she was implying.

“He calls me and starts screaming at me, asking, ‘What are you implying?’ I told him, ‘I’m not implying anything. I’m asking you a direct question,’” she said. “I’m offended you were yelling at me, I’m the one who just lost her daughter.”

Ever since then, Miller said she has not talked to the detective and her husband has been dealing with him.

Miller also said when her cousin talked to the detective earlier, he told the cousin that he knew the family.

“If it was my daughter, I’d be asking for another detective,” Rogers said. “I’m really concerned about this detective.”

Another thing that concerned Henderson’s family was that the boyfriend’s probation officer was never contacted about the incident or any domestic-related incidents the deputies responded to involving the couple.

Deputies had responded to three domestic-related calls at the boyfriend’s address, McCormick confirmed.

When Miller talked to a Department of Corrections probation officer, she was told the probation officer should have been notified every time they responded to one of those calls.

Miller said the probation officer wasn’t even informed of the incident involving her daughter’s death until she called them herself.

During one of the incidents deputies responded to, Henderson was arrested, Miller said.

On-Demand Court Records and the Oklahoma State Courts Network show Henderson, aka Melissa Hammans, has been convicted of several felonies and misdemeanors. In addition, she has had four protective orders filed against her.

In 2001, her husband at the time filed an emergency protective order against her. He filed a protective order against her again in 2004. Two others also filed protective orders against her, one in 2006 and one in 2007, court records show.

In 2004, she was charged with a misdemeanor count of assault and battery. By 2008, she was charged with two felony counts of assault and battery and one count of assault on a police officer, court records show.

She was charged and convicted of all of the those counts in Woodward County. In addition, Henderson was convicted in Ellis County in 2007 for a misdemeanor count of “breach of peace.”

Rogers said while they really don’t know what happened the night of Henderson’s death, they just want to know the truth.

“We’re not bashing him (the boyfriend). We’re not trying to get revenge. We’re just trying to get the truth,” Rogers said. “If he didn’t do it, then it will prove itself.”

In the meantime, the family feels that if the investigating detective knows the family personally, it is a conflict of interest for him to be handling the case. The detective referred all questions to Meghan McCormick.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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