Robert Henderson case update

Robert Henderson

Robert Henderson was or was not killed by Jason Lee McCormick. He says he”doesn’t know if he did it or he didn’t do it,” attorney Michael Green said.

Hawaiian police have charged McCormick with second-degree murder for the July 1996 killing of Robert Henderson. The linguistics professor was a guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii when his naked and decomposing body was found in a condominium he was staying in. According to a grand jury indictment of McCormick, police believe that Henderson was strangled between July 12 and 17, 1996. He was last seen leaving a hula lesson on campus July 12, 1996.

At the time of the slaying, police said that someone wrote a message on Henderson’s buttocks suggesting he was a child molester. A pen was jammed into a leg. Police said later that they did not find evidence to substantiate the molestation claim. Family members said that Henderson was not a pedophile and that his killer was creating a smokescreen to distract from the true motive of robbery. Family members said that at least two watches and a money clip they believe Henderson took on the trip, disappeared. “Obviously, we’re investigating the victim, whether there’s any basis for the claims,” Green said. “Someone may have very well tried to do something to (McCormick) and that set him off.”

McCormick suffers from a severe alcohol addiction and psychiatric problems, his lawyer said. In 2008, McCormick was being treated at a psychiatric facility. There, Green said, McCormick made comments to the staff that he believed he had committed a murder. Police interviewed him, Green said, but apparently didn’t believe him. A short time later, when McCormick was released from the psychiatric unit, he went to police and confessed again, Green said. Police didn’t file charges until two years later.

Jim Fulton, executive assistant to Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney, declined to discuss specifics about the McCormick case, but said investigators routinely “want to make sure it’s a complete investigation.” Green said police may have been looking for physical evidence or other people to back up McCormick’s claims. “A lot of it, he can’t remember if he heard it, read it or did it,” Green said.

McCormick pleaded not guilty during his arraignment and remains in custody. Green said that McCormick likely will not stand trial until early next year. The post is here.