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Lawrence Michael HENSLEY





Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Sexual addiction to exposing himself - Involved in devil worship
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: July 8, 1999
Date of arrest: 5 days after
Date of birth: April 14, 1969
Victims profile: Sheri Kimbler and her cousin Tosha Barrett, both 16; Amy Mikesell, 14; Brett Wildermuth, 37
Method of murder: Shooting - Stabbing with knife
Location: Sidney, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 8, 2000

Rampager Michael Hensley, 30, surrendered to police on July 13, 1999, after a two-hour standoff at a gas station.

Hensley gave up around 5 a.m. ending the standoff in which a clerk and two customers were held hostage at the station. Five days before police believe Hensley killed three teenage girls at his home in Sidney, a western Ohio town with a population of 19,000. He then injured another person and killed his Bible study teacher at the teacher's home outside Sidney.

Neighbours Sheri Kimbler and her cousin Tosha Barrett, both 16, were blasted with a shotgun in Hensley's bedroom. The body of another girl, Amy Mikesell, 14, was found stabbed and stuffed into a basement cupboard. Police, alerted to the shots by neighbours, found a 22-year-old woman slumped outside the house. She has been shot in the leg and shoulder but told police she was able to escape by breaking a window. She identified Hensley as the gunman.

Officers immediately sealed off the street but 30 minutes later Brett Wildermuth, 37, a Bible study teacher at Hensley's church, was shot and killed at his home five miles away. Hensley then drove off, leaving his terrified wife Julie at Wildermuth's house. Neighbours described him as a private, church-going man who had lived quietly for years at the same small house with his wife. But Lisa Perin, a former colleague at the car parts factory where he worked, called him weird. Officers found 24 Molotov cocktails on a workbench at Hensley's home.

According to Reverend Ben Davis of the First Church of God, Hensley, before joining the church, had delved into devil worship. Cheryl L. Cai, Ms. Kimbler's mother, said she believes Hensley killed the girls because he feared his sex secrets were close to being revealed. One girl told authorities Hensley tried to lure some youths to his house for sexual reasons.

The Dayton Daily News reported that Hensley was convicted twice in four years for public indecency, but told investigators in one case that he had exposed himself more than 30 times and wanted to stop. Police Captain Dean Kimpel said investigators were examining suggestions that Hensley (known as Mike) and Wildermuth were rival leaders of a religious cult who had fallen out over sharing sexual favours from the teenage girls. Authorities say Hensley had been involved in devil worship but was receiving counseling at the church which, for apparent reasons, was not effective enough.

In 2000 Hensley took a plea agreement to serve I believe 4 life sentences without the possiblity of parole to avoid the death penalty.


Shooting suspect taken in standoff

July 13, 1999

SIDNEY, Ohio -- A four-day manhunt for the suspect in the slayings of three teenage girls and a Bible study teacher ended peacefully this morning after a short standoff with police.

Lawrence Michael Hensley, 30, turned himself over at a gas station here at about 5 a.m., after releasing three hostages he took at gunpoint 1 1/2 hours earlier.

A Sidney police officer cornered Hensley after spotting a purple Chevrolet Cavalier driving erratically at about 3:15 a.m. Hensley had fled Sidney, about 35 miles north of Dayton, in a similar car Thursday after allegedly killing three girls and a 37-year old man.

Car had different plates

Police said the officer pursued the car, even though the license plates on the car didn't match those of the car in which Hensley fled.

"The Ohio plates had been changed to Illinois," said Lt. Rod Austin of the Sidney Police Department. "After following him a short distance, the officer watched the suspect enter a gas station with a weapon. The officer wasn't close enough to intervene, so he called for assistance."

A tactical response team, including sharpshooters and negotiators, arrived at the Speedway gas station where Hensley was holding two male customers and a female clerk hostage, police said.

"Negotiators were able to make contact using a phone," Austin told "They convinced him that he needed to give up."

Bomb squad called

A bomb dismantling team was summoned from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base because police feared Hensley's car might be rigged with explosives. Twenty-four Molotov cocktails were found in his garage the day of the killings.

"The car was sitting on top of gas tanks," said Austin. "There was concern for public safety." The car was towed to a lot and searched, but no explosives were found.

He was arraigned this morning on four counts of aggravated murder and ordered held on $1 million cash bond, police said. Additional charges are likely to be filed against him, police said.

Suspected in another shooting

Hensley also is a suspect in an apparently unprovoked shooting earlier this morning on Interstate 75 about 10 miles from the gas station where the standoff took place. A 47-year-old Shelby County man was shot twice at about 2:50 a.m. while driving north on the highway, police said. He sought help at a truck stop and was taken to a hospital, where he is in serious condition.

A short time later the Shelby County Sheriff's Office received a call that Hensley was seen outside a home near the truck stop.

"He went to the residence of someone he knew from church. He was not let in, and a shot was discharged, but no one was injured," said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Schemmel.

Hundreds of tips followed

Hensley had been the focus of a regional manhunt since Thursday. He reportedly used an automatic teller machine near London, Ky., and had relatives in eastern Kentucky. Police had been on high alert in the Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia border areas and followed hundreds of tips, but there were no confirmed sightings of Hensley until this morning.

The bodies of Sherry Kimbler, 16, a neighbor of Hensley's; Tosha L. Barrett, 16, Kimbler's cousin, and Amy Mikesell, 14, were discovered Thursday in Hensley's Sidney home after a 22-year-old woman who had been shot escaped from the house. The wounded woman, Veronica Eagy, was listed in fair condition at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

Brett Wildermuth, a lay minister at Hensley's church, was found shot in the back at his house about a half-hour later.


The true story of Lawrence Michael Hensley?

March 23, 2009

Sidney, OH -- July 10, 1999 -- People who know him say Lawrence Michael Hensley is an emotionally troubled man who likes to dissect animals, once spoke of wanting to cut up people after watching them die and once was involved with a satanic group.

A neighbor and former co-worker said that the 30-year-old man sought in connection with the slayings of three teen-age girls and a church counselor might have been acting out one of his bizarre fantasies.

One girl was stabbed to death and found hidden in Hensley's basement, authorities said.

Two other girls found in his house were shot several times from close range with a shotgun loaded with buckshot. So was the church counselor, who was shot in the back at his home 4 miles away.

A fifth victim, a 22-year-old woman, was wounded but escaped Hensley's house by breaking out through a basement window and crawling across the yard.

"I saw her coming across the alley and crawling in the neighbor's back yard,'' said Donald Young, 85, a neighbor of Hensley. "She just kind of pulled herself up through the yard.''

Warrants filed in Sidney Municipal Court charge Hensley with four counts of aggravated murder. The documents identify the dead as Amy; Sherry, a neighbor of Hensley; Tosha, a cousin of Sherry; and Brett R. Wildermuth, 37.

Authorities with the Kentucky State Police said Hensley, who has family in Harlan County, Ky., used an automatic-teller-machin e card in London, Ky.

His family and pastor say Hensley was wrestling with the devil when the shooting rampage began in his home just south of the Shelby County courthouse.

The Rev. Ben Davis of the First Church of God confirmed that Hensley's involvement in satanic worship and the occult came up during counseling.

"We believe that there is a spiritual warfare; there is a conflict between good and evil, right and wrong,'' Davis said.

He said Hensley appeared to be headed for victory in his battle for faith in God until police in this city of 19,000 residents about 60 miles west of Columbus found the first three bodies.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office later found Wildermuth's body.

The shootings began about 5:15 p.m. and ended within a half-hour, authorities said. Hensley escaped in a purple Chevy Cavalier with the Ohio license plate ANQ 7879.

Police said he is believed to be heavily armed.

Officers found 24 Molotov cocktails lined up on a workbench in the basement of Hensley's Queen Street home and said the bombs looked new. A bomb squad detonated them at a fire training center.

Hensley previously was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of theft of sundries from a store in Sidney and twice for public indecency for exposing himself to a store clerk and to a motorist in 1995 and 1997, according to Sidney Municipal Court records.

Hensley was divorced in 1991 from Jennifer Brautigam of Sidney. The couple married in 1989 in Harlan County, Ky., and had a son, Devin, who was born in 1990, according to their divorce filing in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.

His former wife was granted a court order to restrict Hensley's visitation with close supervision after Devin told his mother that Hensley sexually abused him during visits.

Hensley recently married a woman named Julie, who traveled with him from the first shooting scene to the second, authorities said.

A family member who asked to remain anonymous said Hensley broke ties in October with a satanic group based in neighboring Logan County, where he worked. He worked there about two years and had been a good employee, said Jeff Wheeler, quality assurance manager.

"He was trying to get away from the occult,'' the family member said.

Two months ago, cult members ran Hensley's car off the road and beat him, she said. They made crank calls to his home, slashed his tires and harassed him at work, she said.

"I don't know what in the world happened, but something went wrong,'' the woman said. She pleaded with Hensley to surrender.

"Tell him that his family loves him and wants him home safe. No matter what happens, we're still family.''

When police arrived at Hensley's home in response to a 911 call at 5:16 p.m., they found the 22-year-old woman lying in Hensley's yard, bleeding from multiple wounds, Police Chief Steve Wearly said.

"She told the officers that she had been shot by Lawrence Michael Hensley,'' he said.

Police found the bodies of Tosha and Sherry in a bedroom just inside the front door.

During searches, officers noticed what appeared to be a basement window covered with a sheet of plywood. They discovered that it concealed a crawl space, where Amy's body was found.

Wearly withheld the identity of the survivor because he fears for her life as long as Hensley remains at large, he said. She is being treated at a Dayton-area hospital.

The victim told police that Hensley's wife of a few months, Julie, arrived at the home about the time she was shot, but Wearly said the timing of the ensuing events is unclear.

"When he left the home, he loaded up multiple types of long guns and handguns, with a sizable quantity of ammunition,'' Wearly said.

Hensley and his wife then drove to Wildermuth's house, and Mrs. Hensley remained there after the shooting and was cooperating with police, Police Capt. Dean Kimpel said.

Rev. Davis said that Wildermuth was one of several church members who took an interest in helping Hensley break away from the cult.

Lisa Perin, who lives across from Hensley, said she worked with him at a local janitorial service six or seven years ago.

As they traveled together on the job, "One night he made me stop along the side of the road because of some road kill, and he dissected it,'' Perin said. "He cut all the organs out of it and wanted to take it home with him. He thought that was neat.''

On another occasion, "He told me it would be neat to hurt somebody, watch them die and then dissect them,'' she said.

The mother of one of the murdered teens says she believers her daughter was killed to cover up a sex crime. Michael Adkins, the uncle of Amy says there may have been an early warning sign because one of the girls confessed to her mother that Hensley was paying the girls to watch sex acts.

Adkins says the mother threatened to call the police but she didn't when the girls promised not to go back to Hensleys house. Adkins says the mother reportedly confronted Hensley about the accusations, but nothing was done.

Janice Fishbaugh, one of the suspect's neighbors, says there is still lingering fear in her neighborhood because of the murders. She says she's afraid to come home at night because she saw the police removing the bodies from the house down the street.

July 13, 1999 -- Lawrence Michael Hensley surrendered after a two-hour standoff with police at a gas station.

Hensley gave up around 5 a.m., ending the standoff in which a clerk and two customers were held hostage at the station about 35 miles north of Dayton, Shelby County Sheriff Mark Schemmel said.

Hensley was booked on four counts of aggravated murder, Schemmel said.

No hostages were injured, he said. But Hensley was a suspect in an apparently unprovoked shooting earlier today of a motorist on Interstate 75, less than 10 miles away from the gas station, Schemmel said. A 47-year-old man was hospitalized in serious condition, the sheriff said.

Police haven't offered a specific motive for the killings, but by all accounts Hensley was a troubled man.

The standoff began after a police officer spotted Hensley driving erratically in the same purple car he fled in after the shootings, police Lt. Rod Austin said. The officer followed Hensley to the gas station, which police then surrounded him.

Police reached Hensley via phone and "were able to talk him out," said Andy Grzelewski, the station manager.

But the exchange led police to fear Hensley's car contained explosives, Austin said. Two dozen Molotov cocktails had been found in his basement after the killings.

Police blocked off the area, with the help of numerous tractor trailers, for more than three hours until the car could be towed away from the gas tanks to an empty lot.

Police say they believe that Hensley killed the girls and then drove with his wife, Julie Hensley, to Wildermuth's house for a prayer session before killing him. Mrs. Hensley summoned police to Wildermuth's house and has been held in protective custody since.

Schemmel said it wasn't known if Hensley had returned to Sidney from elsewhere or had been in the area all along. But his car plates had been changed to Illinois plates, Austin said.

"They were kids who deserved a future and they didn't have a second chance. It was taken from them."

That is how Sidney High School Principal Greg Johnson described the deaths of three local teen-agers.

"Sherry was a really happy person," said SHS junior Nikki Shie. "She liked everybody."

The two girls worked at Chilly Jilly's, a popular ice cream shop located about a block from the Queen Street murder scene.

Jenny Nation, another co-worker, says she and Sherry were part of the closing crew there Sunday night.

"We were friends even before Sherry started working here," Nation says. "She talked to everybody and we liked to listen to Z-93 on the radio."

Nation remembers seeing police cruisers speed past the ice cream shop with sirens screaming. She later heard rumors that teen-age girls had been found dead in a residence across from Sherry's house on Queen Street.

"I prayed she wasn't there," Nation says. "And I cried when I found out she was one of them. I keep expecting her to walk in the back door ready to work."

Sherry, the daughter of Mark L. Kimbler and Cheryl L. Cai, had attended Versailles High School as a freshman. She returned to Sidney City Schools in October as a sophomore.

"She was a very conscientious student who always had a smile on her face," said guidance counselor Anita Barton. "Sherry worried about needing a tutor to catch up in French class but she did fine."

Barton adds she was "heartsick" when she heard the personable student had been shot to death.

"Sherry came into my office a lot but not because of problems," the counselor says. "I always encourage new students to come in and let me know how they're doing. She was really faithful in that regard."

The teen-ager planned to attend Upper Valley Joint Vocational School, reportedly in cosmetology or graphic arts.

Tosha, the daughter of Ellis C. Barrett and Glenda M. (Kimbler) Barrett, began working at Odd Lots approximately two months ago. Her duties included pricing merchandise and running the cash register.

"She was so happy-go-lucky and carefree," said assistant manager Victor Boroff. "If she had any problems, she certainly didn't complain to anyone."

He, too, finds it difficult to believe she won't be reporting to work any more, adding the teen-ager had been scheduled to work Friday from 3 to 9:30 p.m.

Tosha had attended SHS sporadically, according to Johnson, and was being home-schooled as a junior.

The two cousins began attending Northtowne Church of God in recent weeks. At least one teen-age member of the closely-knit congregation became distraught when she saw their pictures flashed across a television screen. She had known them since kindergarten.

Amy, the daughter of Rita Mikesell and Rick Mikesell, had planned to go to Country Concert '99 at Hickory Hill Lakes this weekend. The seventh-grade Bridgeview Middle School student loved to sing karaoke and play Lazer tag at Holiday Lanes. She wanted to become a country singer like LeeAnn Rimes.

She became acquainted with the older teens through her sister, 17-year-old Lisa Adkins.

"We had all gone to Kings Island earlier this summer," Adkins said. "And we were talking about heading up to Cedar Point.

Amy loved summer. she didn't like school very much."

Overcome with emotion, she wipes tears from her cheeks and admits the pain of losing a sister and two close friends is devastating.

Ashley Daum, a 14-year-old cousin, calls Amy the best friend anyone could have.

"She had a real nice personality. I remember a week ago we went out to the root beer stand and then to Tawawa Park. We had the best time and now she's gone. I'll never have another friend like her."

Members of the Mikesell family cry softly as they recall the frantic vigil that took place Thursday night.

"We went to the homes of Amy's friends and she wasn't anywhere to be found," Rita Mikesell said. "We had heard about dead bodies being found in a house on Queen Street. The police told us Amy was not among them."

Hours after the older teens were found, searchers discovered Amy's body in the basement. She had been stabbed, according to her parents.

"We went from the crime scene to the police station and all the places we thought she might be," the mother said in a voice wracked with emotion. "We kept going back to Queen Street and the police kept telling us she wasn't there. Hours later they changed their story."

The family is awaiting autopsy results to ease their mind. "Would Amy have had a chance if she had been found right away?" her mother asks. "I have to know but right now there are no answers."


March 8, 2000 -- A man who killed three teen-age girls and a Bible studies teacher last year pleaded guilty and received a life sentence, avoiding a possible death penalty.

"I'm sorry for taking your daughters' lives, so sorry for doing what I did,'' a sobbing and trembling Lawrence Michael Hensley told victims' families during a pretrial hearing.

Hensley, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and kidnapping before being sentenced. He gave no reason for the killings.

Hensley had earlier convictions for exposing himself, and prosecutors said Hensley had exposed himself to one or more of the girls.

Although they don't know what happened the day of the killings, prosecutors believe Hensley was involved in "activities'' with some of the girls that could have led to criminal charges, Prosecutor James Stevenson said.

"He was concerned about the possible ramifications of that information being disclosed,'' Stevenson said.

His attorney said Hensley had a sexual addiction to exposing himself and had studied Satanism as part of a spiritual crisis created by his problems.

"He couldn't control himself,'' Kort Gatterdam said.



Lawrence Michael Hensley



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