Man sought in deaths found shot
Jeremy Henry’s body is found on a dirt road in Pasco County. Authorities don’t know if his death is linked to two fatal shootings in Trilby.
By JODIE TILLMAN
Published August 13, 2006
DADE CITY — The mystery behind the slayings of two Wesley Chapel teenagers deepened on Sunday when a 20-year-old man wanted for questioning in the case was found shot to death at the end of a dirt road.
Jeremy Henry’s body was found by a Pasco sheriff’s deputy sent to Chesterfield Road about 2:30 a.m. to investigate reports of gunfire.
Authorities say they do not know whether Henry’s death is connected to the July 28 shooting deaths of Derek Pieper, 17, and Raymond Veluz, 18, in Trilby.
Deputies say that witnesses reported seeing a dark-colored SUV leaving the scene around the time of the shooting.
Deputies on Aug. 2 announced they wanted to question Henry about the killings and warned the public that he was a gang leader who could be armed and dangerous.
Now, authorities are looking for Henry’s killer.
“It’s a setback” in the Trilby shootings, said sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll. “But the investigation is continuing.”
Henry’s family said they want answers about his death.
“I consider what happened to my nephew to be an execution,’’ said Catherine Wright.
His family said they weren’t sure why Henry would have been on Chesterfield Road, a dead-end street lined with homes about 5 miles from downtown. But they said Henry must have been with someone he knew.
“Whoever shot Jeremy, he trusted him,” said his brother, Henry Allen. “Somebody close to him.”
Henry was laying low in the area after law enforcement announced they were looking for him, his relatives said.
Bryan Wright, a cousin, said Henry had stopped by the Dade Oak housing project where he lives two days ago. But he stayed for only a few minutes.
His family said he ran not because he committed the crimes but because he was afraid he wouldn’t get a fair chance to defend himself.
“You have to have money to beat those charges,” Bryan Wright said. “We know how the system is. … Because of a person’s past, he gets blamed for everything.”
Henry was no stranger to law enforcement. At age 11, he was arrested for shoplifting. At 16, he was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
He was arrested in March and charged with aggravated battery in the shooting of a Dade City man. The charges were later dropped, according to court records.
When they named Henry a person of interest in the Trilby shootings, deputies said he was part of a gang known as Jeremy Henry’s Posse, an allegation Doll repeated on Sunday.
Informants told authorities that Henry was “part of what he considered a gang,” Doll said. “You don’t have to be affiliated with a national gang to be involved in some dangerous crimes.”
He said deputies know of about five members of the so-called Jeremy Henry Posse. One of them, they say, is Jonaey Peyton, who was arrested for a July 26 double shooting of a father and daughter in Lacoochee.
Henry’s family disputed the gang accusations. “Jeremy wasn’t no gang leader,” said cousin Jason Wright.
The family say they have not set funeral arrangements. And on Sunday they found themselves mourning Henry and trying to defend him in his final days.
“If my mama needed money, he’d help her out,” said Bryan Wright, whose mother, Catherine, raised Henry. “He had a good heart.”
The Wrights said they drove to the Chesterfield Road site Sunday after receiving word from authorities, just to see it.
On Sunday, authorities attached yellow police tape to palm trees and fences, cordoning off about a dozen homes near the spot where Henry’s body was found in a wooded strip between two mobile homes.
The road is mostly a mix of young families and retirees.
“It was really a surprise,” said resident Robin Bullington as she watched a forensics team Sunday afternoon. “It’s such a quiet neighborhood.”