The Previous History

Let’s go back to a date in Mar. of last year. Mar. 6, 2006. Police receive a call to the address. They may or may not have recognized the address, but it was the address of a county special deputy. Or they may have recognized the address through previous calls. The history indicates there had been 6 times in the last 2 years.  

Nikki Henderson, 29, lived there with her husband Ray Spradley, 42 and at least one child, Nikki’s 7 year old daughter. And despite the 2 year history of domestic violence, the couple were newlyweds only married a few short months. Of the previous calls to the home, Ray Spradley made 4 of those calls with allegations that he was being beaten. Nikki Henderson was arrested once, and was given a diverson program. Spradley at one point had a restraining order against Nikki Henderson.

So on Mar. 6 when police arrived they found the body of Nikki Henderson. She had been shot, allegedly there were a total of 11 shots fired. The defense attorney has stated the events occured like this:

“Ray took the gun away from Nikki. Nikki took the gun away from Ray. Ray took the gun away a second time and then fired 11 times at Nikki Henderson,”

After the shooting Spradley left the home. It was up to the 7 year old child to go to a neighbor for assistance and make contact with police. Some articles indicate the child witnessed the shooting.

Now it is almost two years later and the case is coming to trial. Spradley has been in jail without bond since he turned himself into police shortly after the shooting. He is expected to testify in his own defense. It has been indicated that he intends to claim “battered husband” as a defense. According to the defense attorney:

“We believe that given the circumstances and the fact that there had been other instances of violence between the two persons committed by her — we think the evidence will show that he took the only course of action available to him under the circumstances,”

Now that is going to be an interesting trial. The defense attorney of course gets his information from his client. His client is claiming that Nikki had the gun, then he got it, then Nikki got it, then he got it back. Now this is just my opinion- but whoever holds the gun has more control of a situation. And if this story is true (hopefully there will some evidence at trial to prove or disprove that)- that would mean that Henderson had control at first, Spradley second, Henderson third and Spradley had the final control. The way I am seeing it, whoever had the gun had the means of leaving the situation. I would like to know why when either of them had the weapon did they not use that to keep things in control long enough to leave? Yet neither did. Instead possession of the weapon seems to have been the priority.

HSH guilty of gender bias? I had a lot of trouble writing this one. I found myself questioning if he may have had the knowlege and experience to perhaps turn any abuse complaints to his advantage. I found myself questioning why he stayed with her and why they married if there was previous abuse (sound familiar? the cliche often used when females claim abuse and don’t leave the relationship.) And I found myself wondering if his allegations that Nikki Henderson was the one to introduce the gun were really what happened. And I found myself thinking that if I had heard this as the female doing the shooting that perhaps, just maybe in some ways it could be “self-defense” but a man?

And I realized that if it had been the female who had done the shooting instead of the reverse, I wouldn’t have been as questioning. So yes, even I sometimes have some gender bias. That is something I work on. Maybe he is slanting the story to excuse the shooting. Or maybe he is being truthful. One thing I did note is the number of shots. 11 shots, they wanted them dead. Overkill. Yet that is something that I often hear about when a woman who has been abused does kill her husband/boyfriend. As if once they get started, they don’t or can’t stop. There have actually been studies showing that the abused person sees the abuser as all powerful and they continue because they think that is needed to make sure they are safe. Or it is a sign of extreme rage.

I think this trial will be interesting because the evidence will say a lot, his testimony will say a lot. But the biggest factor is going to be how the jury perceives it. And traditionally juries don’t accept “battered wife syndrome” very well, so what will they do with “battered husband?” But no matter what the gender, one thing that will be looked at is did they have a way to leave the violent episode. And having possession of the gun and not leaving will probably be looked at.

All this reportedly happened in front of a 7 year old child. A 7 year old child that in spite of her fear of the events, in spite of the sight of her mother and in spite of her age had to seek out a neighbor for comfort and assistance. Children who lose their parents at this young age do suffer a lot of anguish at the loss of a parent. But this child will have more- she not only lost her mother, she lost her through violence and she saw it happen. And with 11 shots being fired, she could also have been endangered if not directly by the gun going off during the struggle, then by a stray bullet.

Instead of one of them using their control of the situation through possession of the weapon to leave, we have a mother dead, a child endangered and motherless, and a man in jail and facing a possible prison sentence. Nobody ever wins in a domestic.

A big thank you to DP for the tip on this one.


Thanks to J we have an update. Ray Spradley was found guilty of the charge of voluntary manslaughter, not murder. He now faces sentencing which could be 20 to 50 years in prison.     


Now we have more information. During the trial an expert defense witness hired by the defense testified that Spradley did show signs of “battered spouse syndrome”, but a psychologist hired by the prosecution testified that he also showed signs of some characteristics of an abuser.

Spradley had taken a protection order out against Nikki Henderson. But at one point Nikki Henderson had taken out a protection order against Spradley. The defense brought up the previous police reports of injuries that Spradley alleged he recieved from slaps, bites and punches from Nikki Henderson- but police noted the injuries were minimal.

It was also noted during the trial that Spradley first fired three shots into Nikki Henderson’s front and she fell face down. But after she tried to speak, he then fired eight (8) shots into her back.

Spradley told police the argument began after Nikki Henderson learned that he had been given cologne as a birthday gift from a co-worker.

Family has also said they had heard Spradley verbally abuse and ridicule Nikki Henderson.


Kids and Christmas

There is something really special about kids and Christmas. So trusting and so innocent. So earnst as they make their Christmas lists and try to guess what Santa will bring them. So totally trusting that they are invincable and that there is a Santa Claus.

But one little girl didn’t ask for what she got for Christmas.  She was with her mother and her mother’s 37 year old boyfriend on the Sunday before Christmas. The boyfriend Daniel Heninger allegedly began beating her mother. And according to at least one media report this 6 year old child allegedly tried to stop him. According to reports she was repaid for trying to protect her mother. Allegedly Heninger punched her, he kicked her and he threw her to the floor several times. Per police:

“The suspect picked the child up numerous times and physically threw the child to the floor,” says Sargent Pat Ross of the Springfield Police Department, “causing severe head trauma and numerous fractures.”

She was taken to the hospital in what was first called life threatening injuries. According to reports she had multiple fractures, bruises and cuts.

It seems that Daniel Heninger does have a history. In 1991 he was convicted of drug and weapon offenses and put on probation. But in 1994, he reportedly violated that probation and was incarcerated for 2 years. And in 2005 he was allegedly arrested twice. Once when he whipped the children of a girlfriend and left bruises and another time when he allegedly hit a woman in the face with a bat. However, no charges were ever filed on those arrests. The woman allegedly didn’t cooperate with police and it is unknown why there were no charges in the spanking incident. According to media, Heninger is already on probation for a domestic battery in Sept. 2006. Reportedly he has completed the required anger managment course and was due to attend a hearing in Feb. to pay his fine.

The litte girl spent her Christmas in the hospital, but reports indicate that her condition has been upgraded to stable. I have not seen any reports on the mother’s condition. At the time of the altercation there were two other children in the home ages 3 months and 13 months. They were not harmed. I have not seen any charges filed for the alleged abuse of the mother.

Daniel Heninger has been charged with aggravated battery to a child and attempted murder.                              

She is 6 years old. She has no say about who her mother dates and probably didn’t know Heningers criminal history. All she knew was that her mother was being hurt. And she wanted it to stop.

Instead of a happy Christmas, she spent the day surrounded by nurses, and strange sounds and strange equipment and in pain. She has already or eventually will have to talk to other strangers and tell them what happened to her and who did it. She will need time to heal from her injuries, and may be delayed in returning to school to tell her friends what she got for Christmas. And that Sunday as well as many times since that day she has been scared and in pain.

 This may or may not be the first time she saw her mother being hurt. But this time she tried to stop it. She did not know the danger she was putting herself in, she just wanted to stop her mother being hurt. Children rely on their parents to keep them away from dangerous situations where they can be physically abused or emotionally traumatized. In relationships where there is domestic violence, there is also an increased risk of child abuse. Something every parent in an abusive relationship should keep in mind.

I just hope that this brave little girl got every other wish she had for Christmas.

A Bizarre Twist

Fielder, 30, had been known to have problems with mental disorders and aggression since the teen years. As far back as 1998 Fielder’s mother took out a restraining order, she says she had been hit over the head with a chair and threatened as well as threats made against other family members.   Four months later Fielder allegedly violated the order and was court ordered into mental health treatment as well as probation. There were other incidents of criminal charges of including tresspass and attempted assault.

In 2004 Fielder was convicted of harrassment and theft and spent 5 days in jail and was ordered into anger management treatment.

Eight months ago Fielder met someone named Kellerman, 36, and the two began to date. But friends say there were problems in the relationship. They say that Fielder was obsessively jealous and constantly accusing Kellerman of being unfaithful- but friends say that was not true. The relationship between Fielder and Kellermann ended about 6 months ago because of the problems.

There are also reports of problems since that time. Friends say that Fielder began stalking Kellerman and the behavior became bizarre. Allegedly Fielding made death threats, made multiple calls to Kellerman’s workplace and other attempts to make contact with Kellerman.

On May 18 Kellerman finally applied for a restraining order. The order was approved on May 21. Kellerman told the court that Fielding

“threatened to kill me in front of co-workers, . . . came to my home . . . blocked my car in driveway. Kicked door. . . Used security code to enter my truck. Waited for me to get in.”

Kellerman said that police had not been called as Fielder was not thought to have a weapon. Kellermann also said that Fielding might be suicidal.

Then word came to Kellerman that Fielder was dead from a drug overdose. Police say that Fielder had tricked some into believing she had committed suicide. Word of the alleged suicide had reached Kellerman.

On Wednesday at 5:30 am Michael E. Kellermann was leaving his home to go to work. Police say his ex-girlfriend Jacqueline Kay Fielder was waiting outside his home. Police say that Fielder began to shoot at Michael Kellerman, and he ran from her and the weapon. Allegedly Fielder chased after him.

Michael Kellermann finally collapsed and died a few houses away from his home. He had five shots in his chest. Police say that Fielder continued to shoot even after he collasped. Fielder fled the scene.

“Based on information from witnesses, the victim had apparently been grieving the loss of Fielder. All indications are that the victim would have been shocked to find the suspect alive when he saw her (Wednesday) morning.”

Police called her cell phone and tried to talk her into turning herself in or telling them where she was, but she refused. But a State Police trooper did have a sighting on her car at 7:40 am. When police attempted to stop her a high speed chase began.

She managed to evade a couple of sets of spike strips, hit another vehicle and a guardrail and reached speeds of almost 100 miles per hour before she finally hit another spike strip.

Fielder left the car and took off. Police were attempting to negotiate with her when they say she shot herself in the head.

Fielder was taken to the hospital and died on Thursday.

Obsessive, abusive or controlling behaviors do not belong exclusively to men. We hear it happening with men more often, but it is theorized that men do not report as frequently. Michael Kellerman reportedly waited months before applying for a restraining order.

Few shelters take men. There are few resources available to them. And frequently people do not take a report of violence from a woman as seriously as from a man. I have never seen the reports of height and weight for suspect and victim in any report of domestic violence crime except this one. Yes, he was taller and weighed more. But when you add a weapon vs. an unwillingness to harm another- that can even out any differences in physique.

It is just as important for a man to take precautions and seek assistance and legal protection in a domestic violence relationship as it is for a woman. Because whether it is male or female, the results can end up the same.

A big thanks to D.P. for posting this one on

In Self Defense

The sheriff’s dept. was called to the home of Dennis Alvin Franklin, 63, and his wife Cynthia D. Franklin, 59, on Friday night. They found Dennis Franklin dead from a gunshot wound in a bedroom of the home. And allegedly Cynthia Franklin admitted to shooting him.

The family has issued this statement:

Mr. Franklin was killed during a violent attack against his wife of 41 years. She fought desperately to save her own life and by God’s grace she miraculously survived. Many knew Dennis Franklin had a drinking problem and that there were many years of verbal and physical abuse. He was a functioning alcoholic but was very abusive when he drank.Mr. Franklin retired from Bell South in October 2006 with 41 years of service. He served in the National Guard for 28 years. He was a good provider to his family, a dedicated worker, a loving father and grandfather.The family wishes for your prayers and for Mrs. Franklin’s physical and emotional healing caused by this traumatic experience and tragedy.

Neighbors have said that Mrs. Franklin had a heart condition.

The sheriff’s dept. says there were signs of a struggle in the home. And Cynthia Franklin had significant injuries to her head, face and upper body. Allegedly she had been struck with a long stick, like the handle to a tool.

Cynthia Franklin has allegedly told authorities that as her husband was hitting her, she was trying  to get away. She ran into the bedroom where the gun was kept and when her husband again tried to attack her, she shot him.

Cynthia Franklin was airlifted to the hospital where she was admitted in serious condition.

The sheriff’s department has said their are no reports that of domestic violence in the recent system (since 2000), but neighbors have told the dept. that there have been domestic disputes before and that law enforcement has been there before.

No charges have been filed at this time and the investigation is continuing. But the sheriff’s department says that all indications at this time are that Mrs. Franklin acted in self defense. 


It seems that Dennis Franklin had been previously charged with domestic violence in 1999 for a verbal threat. After being charged with criminal domestic violence he agreed to enter an anger management program. After completing the program the charges were dropped.

 Cynthia Franklin has been released from the hospital. Prosecutors have determined that Mrs. Franklin acted in self defense and no charges will be filed against her.                     

They Married Three Times

Michael, and Valerie Harris were married in Oct. 2001. By June 2002 Michael Harris, 49, was arrested for domestic violence. By August of 2002 Valerie Harris, 46, had filed for divorce.

But in April of 2003, the couple remarried. In April of 2004, Harris was again cited for domestic violence but this time it wasn’t against Valerie- it was against her son, Harris’ stepson. Harris agreed to go to counseling and the charges were dismissed. According to at least one article there were no convictions on any of the above complaints.

Then in Feburary of 2006 the couple were again divorced and remarried in August of 2006. But December 24, 2006 Harris allegedly made a threatening phone call to his wife’s cell phone and Harris was cited for telephone harassment. He was released on bond.

Sunday about noon police were again called to the families apartment for a domestic violence complaint according to the mayor. One report says they were responding to a hangup call to 911.

When police arrived Harris allegedly refused them entry into the apartment. A call went out for addtional assistance at the scene and several departments responded, including a Special Response team. At that point a series of phone calls began between Harris and the responding officers. The situation for Valerie Harris was not known, so this was treated as a hostage situation.

When all was ready law enforcement officers used flash-bangs to make entry and Harris gave himself up. Reportedly Harris did not shoot at officers. Officers found Valerie Harris in the bedroom of the home with a single gunshot to the front of her head. It is believed that a shotgun was used. The coroner has said Valerie was shot at close range. Valerie Harris was pronounced dead at 5:17 pm.

Neither neighbors or police report hearing a gunshot, and police are not sure when Valerie Harris was killed.

Harris was arrested on one count of first degree murder. Harris went before the court for a bond hearing on Wednesday. At that time he reportedly tried to plead guilty, but he wasn’t represented by an attorney. The judge recommended that he have an attorney and gave a continuance while Harris reconsidered the guilty plea. When he appeared before the court on Thursday, Harris said he wanted an attorney and a public defender was provided. He is being held without bond.

An interesting quote from one of the articles in reference to the arrest for telephone harassment- “He was just calling her [Valerie Harris] on her cell phone and threatening her. It was all alcohol related.” (emphasis added by me)        

Three sets of domestic violence complaints. Three trips to court with no convictions. He took counseling. Three times divorced.

You want to love them, you try to love them, you want the abuse to stop, you want them to change.

Alcoholics have adopted this prayer as their own and ever since I first heard this has stuck in my mind. I try to use it in my life even though I am not an alcoholic, I do think it is appropriate to everyone.

                       The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

You cannot change another person. Only they have the power to change themselves. And no matter how you try, no matter what you do, if they do not wish to work at the change they will continue. And a person who is continually committing the same acts obviously is not working to change.

I am sure he said he was sorry each time. And he probably said he would change. And he even agreed to take counseling- when he was under threat of criminal charges. And now he goes to court and tries to plead guilty…. only this time the crime he is saying sorry for is so much bigger.

Also appropriate at this time is a discussion of the ‘Honeymoon Cycle of Abuse’

Another School Day

She was 6. And on Tues. morning she got up for school all by herself. Coming out of her room she found her mother Patricia Hamilton, 48, just outside her bedroom door. Her mother was bloody, unresponsive.

She did what she had to do. She called 911 at 8:23 am. And when police arrived she talked to them, told them what she knew.

Police found her mother lying on the floor outside the child’s bedroom, dead from stab wounds.

Investigator’s found several things at the home. Patricia Hamilton was a teacher’s aide. And one of her duties was to collect lunch money from the schoolchildren. Some of those envelopes were at the home, and the money was missing from them. Police say it wouldn’t have been much money, but possibly more than $10.

Police also found that Patricia Hamilton’s van was missing from the home. And they found out that Patricia Hamilton had a restraining order against her husband  46-year-old Bernie Hamilton. In the 2004 court records where she applied for the restraining order, it was stated that Hamilton had stalked and harassed her and “The defendant has broken coffee cups, overturned tables, scares child by irrational behavior,” “Plaintiff is alarmed and frightened by defendant’s actions. She fears for her and her child’s safety.” Bernie Hamilton was ordered to attend classes on alternatives to domestic violence. The restraining order was granted and Bernie Hamilton was barred from the couple’s apartment and from his wife’s workplace.

There was a custody agreement, and visitation was to be handled by taking the child to the children’s area of the library for the exchange. Reports here split. Some reports say that Hamilton had begun doing his visitation at the home and some reports say they couple had been living together again.

Witnesses reported seeing Hamilton at the apartment the night before the murder.

The little 6 year old girl was placed with relatives.

On Wednesday, police found Patricia Hamilton’s van at a bus station. And they say they found evidence inside that points to Bernie Hamilton as the killer. They are declining to discuss what they found.

Charges of  murder in the first degree, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes in the third degree and contempt of court for violating a restraining order were filed against Bernie Hamilton. Felony murder charges are being considered. He was also charged with child endangerment in the second degree.

However they do not have Hamilton in custody. Because the van was found at a bus station, they have issued a nationwide alert for him. Bernie Hamilton is also known as Bernie Tomkins.     

One more child, this time waking up on her own. Alone in a home occupied only by the dead body of her mother. She was forced to take an adult’s role in calling authorities. She was forced to deal with her fears with only strangers in uniforms for company. She had to be the one to answer their  questions. And she had to learn that there was nothing that could help her mother. And at some point she is going to learn that it was all at the hands of her father.