Chesterton Tribune

Florida man charged with murder in death of Verboom

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An Orlando, Fla., man was taken into custody in Florida Tuesday night in connection with the homicide of Liberty Township resident Robert C. Verboom.

Chad Henry, 19, Verboom’s roommate of several weeks in November, has been charged with murder, and at a press conference this morning Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds said that Henry has confessed to bludgeoning Verboom to death on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 23.

Henry advised investigators that he and Verboom had argued after Verboom attempted to make “inappropriate sexual contact” with him. Henry hit Verboom “numerous times” in the head with a “pipe-like instrument,” Reynolds said, but investigators have not recovered the murder weapon and Henry has declined to disclose its whereabouts.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Lt. Det. Jim Stewart, “a number of circular imprints,” apparently made by an object with a “rounded hollow end,” were also found on Verboom’s clothing.

A legal resident of Orlando, Henry had recently traveled to Porter County to visit his brother, David Henry, and had obtained part-time work with him at Area Tree Service at 25 W. U.S. Highway 6, Reynolds said. Verboom also worked for the tree service and approximately two weeks before the murder had offered Henry a room in his trailer on Lot 49 of the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park at 71 W. U.S. 6, Reynolds said.

Investigators additionally learned that sometime during October, Henry’s brother, David, had also stayed in Verboom’s trailer.

Reynolds said that the break in the case came Sunday night when investigators spoke with Henry’s brother, David, and David’s girlfriend, Kelly Herrera. According to Stewart’s affidavit, David advised investigators that on the night of Saturday, Nov. 23, his brother came to Herrera’s Portage residence, his hands and clothes covered with blood, and told him that he had had a fight with his roommate “Bob” and had killed him. David also advised investigators that he refused his brother’s request to help him dispose of the body. Henry then told David that he was going to gather his clothes and return to Florida in his powder blue Oldsmobile Cutlass.

Herrera corroborated David Henry’s statement, Stewart said in his affidavit.

Porter County Warrant Office Dean Pontjeris subsequently made contact with the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Florida and with Orlando law enforcement and Henry was quickly located in a motel room in Orlando and put under surveillance, Reynolds said. The Sheriff’s Police then obtained a warrant charging Henry with murder from the Office of the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney and within minutes of the arrival in Orlando Tuesday night of five Sheriff’s Police detectives, Henry had been taken into custody in a felony stop on his Oldsmobile Cutlass, Reynolds said.

Henry has indicated his willingness to waive extradition, Reynolds added, and will probably be transported to Porter County sometime Thursday by Major Doug Snyder, Capt. Mike Jenkins, Stewart, and Det. Jerry Kratowicz.

Verboom’s badly decomposed body was found Saturday evening, three weeks after the murder, after Verboom’s daughter, Jacquelyn S. Verboom, 23, of Chicago Heights, Ill., discovered him on the floor of the hallway of his trailer. “Everything (Henry is) saying is very consistent with what we found at the scene,” Reynolds said, although investigators are in the process of obtaining a search warrant for Henry’s car and his motel room in an attempt to find further physical evidence—blood, most likely—to link him with Verboom. Nothing appears to have been taken from Verboom’s trailer, he noted.

In addition to his daughter, Verboom also has a son, currently in boot camp in the U.S. Army, Reynolds said. In 1999 Verboom was charged with domestic battery in Illinois, although no disposition had been reached in that case at the time of his death, Reynolds said.

He added that Henry himself had had juvenile contacts with Florida law enforcement agencies.

“Obviously I’m very pleased with the Detective Bureau,” Reynolds said. “They did an excellent job.” In particular he praised the high level of cooperation between his department’s detectives and patrol officers, the latter of whom provided investigators with much of their early information. And Reynolds spoke well of the inter-agency cooperation with the U.S. Marshal’s Service and Orlando law enforcement. “It was professionally handled down there.”


Posted 12/18/2002