HENNEPIN — Diamond Bradley was killed by a Putnam County man she had initially met through the internet and who allegedly stabbed her multiple times and left her lying in a ditch along a lonesome gravel road until her body was discovered three days later.
That was the gruesome scenario that police sketched out Tuesday morning at a news conference in Spring Valley just moments before Richard A. Henderson of Standard was formally arraigned in Putnam County Circuit Court on a felony charge of concealing the 16-year-old’s homicidal death.
Henderson appeared in court shortly before noon. Public defender Roger Bolin was appointed to represent him, and his bond was set at $1 million.
Concealment is a Class 3 felony with penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison. Henderson is being held in the LaSalle County Jail, where Putnam County often houses inmates.
More charges expected
But investigators emphasized separately that more charges are expected, because they believe the 26-year-old greenhouse worker killed the Spring Valley teenager soon after picking her up near her home between 6:30 and 7 a.m. on Jan. 24. That was the day she was reported missing.
“Based upon the information we have at this point, Henderson picked Diamond up near her residence and drove directly into Putnam County to 850N Road,” Putnam County Sheriff Kevin Doyle said in a prepared statement. “A physical altercation occurred, resulting in Henderson killing Diamond.”
The cause of death was found to be multiple stab wounds, and police believe the altercation occurred at about the point where her body was found at 12:57 p.m. on Jan. 27. Doyle and Spring Valley police Chief Kevin Sangston were asked Tuesday whether that means her body was placed there on Jan. 24 and not found until an unidentified passerby noticed it on Jan. 27.
“That’s what we believe at this point,” Sangston replied.
County Road 850N runs east and west two miles south of Illinois Route 71, and the victim’s family and friends have placed a memorial at a point not far from its intersection with Meridian Road and the LaSalle County line. State’s Attorney Christina Mennie confirmed outside court Tuesday that the body had been found along that one-mile gravel section, though she would not comment on the exact location.
The formal charge filed Tuesday alleges that Henderson “knowingly concealed the death of (Bradley) by disposing her body in a ditch, along an obscure road in Granville Township ...”
Mennie declined to comment further on the substance of the case, noting that there were many reports she had not yet received. But she cited “a lot of good police work” by numerous investigators.
“There were a lot of counties involved and a lot of agencies, and it all came together,” she said. “They deserve a pat on the back.”
Doyle and Sangston said investigators had received extensive information from many sources, and they had targeted Henderson by Monday. He was contacted at his home and came to the Spring Valley Police Department for a statement and questioning, Sangston said.
“He was talked to throughout the day and charged at one point,” Sangston said.
Police would not comment on whether the girl had been sexually assaulted, and said the exact nature of her relationship with Henderson remains under investigation. But Doyle noted that cellphone pings and surveillance videos had been among the key evidence leading to the suspect.
“We can say that we know that Diamond and Henderson met through the internet and agreed to meet the morning that she was reported missing,” the sheriff said.
Police said Henderson is not a native of Standard. That was confirmed later by Bolin, who had spoken with the defendant before his court appearance. But Bolin told Circuit Judge Thomas Keith that Henderson had been living there for nearly a year while working at a large commercial greenhouse operation.
“He said that in open court,” Bolin said.
To the Journal Star, former co-workers elsewhere said Henderson claimed to have immigrated from Russia at age 18, thus his nickname of “The Great Russian.” His voice carried an accent that sounded Russian, the former co-workers said.
“He had a strong accent,” said John Mosqueda, 20, who said he worked with Henderson last spring and early summer at a manufacturing company in Peru.
Henderson told coworkers that after arriving in America, he joined a traveling circus, Mosqueda said. Henderson — 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds — said his circus job mostly involved set-up and tear-down, but he displayed at least one performance talent, Mosqueda said.
“I’ve seen him balance a garbage can on his chin,” Mosqueda said.
At some point during his circus travels, Henderson befriended a man from Putnam County, Mosqueda said. Henderson apparently lived for a while in the man’s home, near Standard, Mosqueda said.
Mosqueda said that when Henderson first started at the manufacturing company, the two got along well. They often would hang out at McDonald’s.
“He looked at girls, like a lot of guys,” Mosqueda said.
Co-worker saw flashes of anger
About a month into the job, however, Henderson would show flashes of anger, Mosqueda said. Eventually, he said, he developed a grudge against Mosqueda, who sometimes supervised Henderson. Henderson apparently did not like being supervised by someone six years his junior, Mosqueda said.
“He said he didn’t like me and wanted to hit me,” said Mosqueda, who added that Henderson never became violent with him.
After four months, Henderson left that company and found a maintenance job at a greenhouse in Granville. Doug Becker, 17, of Peru had a summer job at the same place and got along well with Henderson.
“He was real nice to me,” Becker said. “He always said hi, and we would shoot the (bull) back and fourth. A really cool and funny guy.
“I would have never guessed he would be involved in this.”
Bolin said he believes Henderson is a U.S. citizen.
Henderson was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 15. But the need for that demonstration of probable cause in open court could be eliminated by a grand jury indictment, which often occurs in homicide cases.
Mennie has used grand juries on two occasions in an unrelated, pending concealment and murder case that also involves a man from Standard. But it’s too soon to make that determination in this case, she said Tuesday.
“A grand jury is always a possibility, but I need to get more information,” Mennie said. “I don’t have enough right now to make that decision.”
Gary L. Smith can be reached at (800) 516-0389 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Phil Luciano can be reached at email@example.com, facebook.com/philluciano and (309) 686-3155. Follow him on Twitter.com/LucianoPhil.