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Kentucky cold case of Greta Henson: The two of hearts

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January 7, 1992 is a date that will forever be burned into the memories of Josephine and Shirley Henson. It was on this winter day that they witnessed a scene no parent should ever have to endure. After their daughter, 24-year-old Greta Henson, failed to show up for work at a local car dealership in Harlan, KY., her concerned parents decided to go to her house to check on her. They never imagined the heartbreak that would await them there.

When they arrived at Greta’s Middlesboro, Ky. home, Josephine and Shirley Henson discovered the barely recognizable body of their daughter. It was immediately clear that Greta had been murdered, as, according to Angela Sparkman of WYMT Mountain News, the family reported that Greta had been “bound, strangled, and shot five times in the head”. Other reports elaborated that Greta was shot from behind, in the back of the head. Perhaps her killer(s) knew her and could not stand to face her, or possibly the brutal nature of this murder was meant to be a message to others. Interestingly, police reported that there were no obvious signs burglary, nor was there any indication of sexual assault.

Sparkman shared Josephine Henson’s mournful declaration that, “We’ll never get over it, never get over it”, while Greta’s father, Shirley Henson, stated, “[I] have to live every day thinking about it”. Josephine Henson recalls that the night before her daughter’s murder, she spoke to Greta on the telephone around midnight and Greta seemed just fine at that time. On February 4, 2013, after WYMT Mountain News featured this cold case on their Facebook page, a former classmate of Great Henson, Kelly Woodard, commented on the post, stating, “I knew Greta in school. All these years later, I can’t understand the motive. I never knew her to be other than kind, sweet and loving.”

Although there have been no solid leads in this case, Greta’s family believes that her killer was someone she knew and trusted. The available evidence supports this theory, as police reported no signs of forced entry. Additionally, Greta’s parents revealed that a gun and ring were missing from Greta’s home. If a description of the ring were released, it is possible that more leads could be generated.

Rumors, speculation and fear run rampant within the community where Greta lived and died, and local online message boards are filled with tales of political corruption impeding the investigation into Greta’s death, transient workers as suspects, suspicious locals, and even ties to Greta’s place of employment. However, the common thread that binds these discussions is the fear that anyone who digs too deeply into this case will meet the same fate. Greta’s family firmly believes that someone has information about her killer(s). Sparkman captured Greta’s mother’s desperation in Mrs. Henson’s plea: “I wish that somebody would come forward and say something, so she and we could get some justice, so we can get some justice for her.”

Kentucky State Police agree that this case, among others in the Commonwealth, has remained unsolved for far too long, and have devised a unique plan to hopefully produce some new leads in 52 Kentucky cold cases. According to Lorie Settles of the Cumberland Trading Post, “law enforcement officials have unveiled a deck of playing cards aimed at solving cold cases”. Greta Henson is featured as the two of hearts in this deck, which has been distributed to inmates across the Commonwealth. These cards, each highlighting a different unsolved case, list pertinent information about each victim, as well as telephone numbers and email addresses to submit any new information. The hope behind this innovative approach is that “inmates who have spoken with perpetrators of the unsolved crimes will come forward with information that will lead to a break in the case”, Settles reports. Information on the case of Greta Henson may be reported via the Kentucky State Police Tip Line at 1-877-735-2648, emailed to kyunsolved@ky.gov, or reported directly to Detective Don Perry of Kentucky State Police Post 10 in Harlan, Ky. at 606-573-3131 or Donald.Perry@ky.gov.

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