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The Unsolved Murder of Lisa Ann Henderson

Case File Overview 

On June 1st, 1979, 17-year-old Lisa Ann Henderson headed out around noon for an afternoon of adventure. She told her brother she was checking out a potential modeling job and then meeting a friend for lunch.  

When she left her family home located at 7929 S. 70th E. Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lisa was wearing “a long, white flowered dress and heels.” She had two garment bags with her, likely containing outfits for the modeling appointment. 

Witnesses saw Lisa climb into a 1976-1977 maroon Chevrolet Monte Carlo. It had no hubcaps and damage to the driver’s side of the vehicle. The damage was extremely noticeable, with authorities saying, “it looked [like] someone took a hammer and beat [the car] to death.” An eyewitness said a very pale white male was behind the wheel of the Chevy. He was approximately 40 years old and had thinning, dark hair. 

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations created an aged progression composite sketch of the driver decades after Lisa’s murder. The original image shows the suspect at the time of Lisa’s murder. And the age progression to the left of the original captures the man as he might have looked in September of 2016.

Composite sketch of the man last seen with Lisa

Suspect in Lisa Henderson Murder
Source: Websleuths

When Lisa did not return home by 5:00PM, her family became very concerned. After contacting her friends and co-workers and learning no one had heard from Lisa all afternoon, they called the police and filed a missing persons report.

On June 11th, 1979, a road worker found Lisa’s body in Wagoner County, south of Highway 51 on Old Porter Road—27 miles away from her south Tulsa home. 

An autopsy later revealed Lisa’s cause of death was gunshot wounds. Also, her body was set on fire, possibly in an attempt to conceal any evidence that may have been left behind. 

Lisa’s murder remains unsolved. 

Case File Theories 

Unlike most murders where the victim’s significant other is the prime suspect, the police have stated Lisa did not have a boyfriend at the time of her death. This, however, has not caused a shortage of theories. There are two main persons of interest in Lisa’s case. 

Serial Killer 

Police think Lisa’s case could potentially be connected with Patricia Palmer’s murder (Patricia’s case will be covered soon in an upcoming article), as both women placed ads in the Tulsa World newspaper. Lisa was seeking a modeling job whereas Patricia was looking to sell her wedding dress. Had a serial killer answered these unsuspecting women’s ads and then murdered them? 

Lisa’s mom, Gerri Henderson, is quite sure when Lisa was picked up from the house she was going to a modeling job. One of the big questions that remain is whether the ad in the newspaper led the murderer to Lisa or if she got onto the killer’s radar when she was spotted working at the mall. 

The police found out that a few months before Lisa’s murder she had been approached about a modeling job at the Woodland Hills Mall where she worked. A blonde-haired man who claimed he was from California and his older photographer friend asked Lisa if she would be interested in modeling for them. The authorities believe the two men contacted Lisa again. The investigators said, “We are looking at this ruse if it was to get her to model or whatever their intent was.” 

To complicate matters even further, the police told the media they felt Lisa was murdered by “someone who was mad at her for some reason or mad at her for a particular situation.” Nothing else is revealed to back up this statement. But it does call into question if a stranger murdering Lisa during a modeling ruse meets this criteria.

Moreover, the police think the location of the body is a key clue. Did someone murder Lisa and then dump her body somewhere they knew well? The investigators wondered, “Why that location? Why would they take her there and dump her out there? What is so significant about this area?” 

Although it is unclear if the ad led to Lisa’s murder or if she was targeted by a predator who saw her at the mall, it is probable a modeling job ruse played a role in her death. 

Neighbour

In 2015, a new theory about Lisa’s murder emerged in a Websleuth’s forum. Although it is always good practice to question things posted on open public forums, it is a compelling theory that needs to be considered. 

A man using the handle OOKinTulsa posted on the forum stating in 2010 he had contacted the police with information about a person of interest in Lisa’s case. The person in question lived only one street over from Lisa and she reportedly babysat this man’s nine-year-old stepdaughter who was subjected to regular verbal and physical abuse. It is thought that Lisa found out about the abuse and was murdered to ensure her silence. The person of interest also supposedly said to the forum poster in a threatening voice, “Lisa Henderson’s body should never have been found.” 

There are more details you can check out on the forum, but I am not sure what to think. When the poster brings up an elaborate cover-up perpetrated by the District Attorney’s office to protect the person in question, I start to doubt the entire story. But I am left wondering if there might be a kernel of truth to it all, and if perhaps this tip was somehow related to the “new information” described below.

New(ish) Information 

Three decades after the murder, new information apparently came to light that could help the investigation. The authorities were purposefully vague about the tip to help protect the integrity of the case. But investigators did say the information they received might lead to a break in the case. 

The police told reporters, “We had a call come in and we spoke to an individual [who] gave us some information that we didn’t know at the time. Our lab has been able to produce some things that have been beneficial.” 

Unfortunately, that tip came in years ago. And there has been little to no change in the case, publically at least. Whatever “beneficial” evidence was found has yet to lead to an arrest for Lisa’s murder.

What do you think happened to Lisa? 

When Lisa was murdered, she had a promising and bright life ahead of her. She was eager to start her senior year at Union High School and to see what the future would hold. Lisa’s positive outlook and lively personality impacted those around her. Lisa’s mom Gerri said Lisa “was one of those people that lit up a room when she walked in.” 

Lisa Henderson

Murder victim Lisa Henderson
Image source: NBC News

Lisa’s loved ones are still seeking justice, but realize closure is unlikely. Gerri explained, “I’ll never have closure, closure doesn’t come. I don’t even want closure, I just want the peace to know whoever is responsible will pay or already has paid.” 

Gerri heartbreakingly recalled all she lost when Lisa was killed. Lisa’s murderer took away “…a [high school] graduation, they took a college graduation, they took a wedding, they took away grandchildren.” In fact, Lisa’s mom feels as though she has lost almost everything: “I have lost a lot, I have lost my husband, I have lost my son. I am the last person here to be her avenger to say you cannot get by with this.”

Lisa’s mom is asking for the public’s assistance so Lisa’s murderer can be held accountable for their crimes. She is pleading for anyone with information about her daughter’s murder to please contact the police. Gerri asked, “Will they just please make that phone call? That’s all I want is for somebody to make that phone call with the right information to solve this case. I want that for my daughter, she deserves justice and she has had none.” 

There is a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Lisa’s killer. If you have any information about Lisa’s murder please call Crime Stoppers at (918) 596-2677.

Interested in unsolved murders? Check out the murder of Gary and Stephanie Gillette and the slaying of Patricia Bovin.

Sources:

“A Mother’s Day Without a Daughter.”NBC News article. 

“Lisa Henderson.”Tulsa Police Department website. 

“Lisa Henderson.”Websleuths website. 

“Notorious Tulsa Cold Case Investigations.”Tulsa People article. 

“Searching for the Killer After 32 Years.”Fox 23 News article. 

“The Murder of Lisa Ann Henderson in Wagoner County, Oklahoma.”Documenting Reality article. 

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