1. News

John Henry, Pasco man who killed wife, boy, is executed

John R. Henry committed two murders in 1985 and one in 1976.
Published Jun. 19, 2014

STARKE — More than 25 years after her aunt and cousin were brutally murdered by John Ruthell Henry, Selena Geiger finally felt peace.

"I actually feel good. I don't feel sorry for him," she said, after witnessing Henry's execution by lethal injection. "I wish it could've been different. I wish he could've died the way he killed them."

The state of Florida executed Henry, 63, for the 1985 murder of his wife Suzanne Henry — Geiger's aunt — at the Florida State Prison on Wednesday night.

Henry's was the third execution in the United States in the past 24 hours.

Those executions, in Georgia and Missouri, were the first since April 29, when officials stopped the execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma because of issues with his veins. He writhed and shook, according to reports. He later died of a heart attack.

Henry's execution was calm. He refused a last meal and was visited by his family, who did not attend the execution.

In a statement, they said they are grateful for an ending to the decades-long saga.

A group of the victim's family members sat in the front row, in front of a glass window. There were 24 people in the room.

Henry spent his last moments strapped to a bed and draped in a white sheet to his neck. Tubes out of a wall went into his arms. His last words were an apology: He asked for forgiveness in Jesus Christ's name and said if he could take back what he did, he would.

He muttered to himself when the execution began at 7:30, which was delayed because of a last minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. His eyes fluttered and he yawned when the first of the three-drug cocktail took effect. A man shook him to make sure he was unconscious. The sheet stopped rising and falling around 7:34, and his face lost color.

After the execution, Geiger, 38, held up a photo of Suzanne Henry and her 5-year-old son, Eugene Christian.

"These are the victims," she said. "These are the ones we need to remember."

Henry was convicted of three murders. In 1976, he stabbed his 28-year-old girlfriend Patricia Roddy 20 times in the front seat of a car while her children sat in the back. One child pleaded with him, saying "Daddy, Daddy, please stop hurting Mommy."

He did a little over seven years in prison and seemed to improve and rehabilitate. He was a model inmate. After his release, he got back into drugs and had pending charges against him. He murdered his wife after an argument while Eugene was with them in a Zephyrhills apartment.

Henry covered the boy's face and kidnapped him, drove to Hillsborough County and bought him fried chicken. Henry smoked crack, then, with Christian sitting in his lap, he stabbed the child and left his body in a field.

Henry stabbed both his wife and stepson in the neck so many times with a 5-inch paring knife that they were nearly decapitated, Geiger said.

Geiger was young when the crime happened, and she remembers the chaos of that day. She said she carries that brutality with her always. Henry stole her youth from her, she said.

"You see movies and you see TV shows about bad guys but you never really know," she said. "This man showed me that true evil really exists."

His apology? It means nothing to her. But her family can finally rest. "We have some closure," she said. "Justice has finally been done."


  1. St. Petersburg police said Sophie Solis, 43, was found dead in her car, which was parked in her driveway at 7380 Organdy Dr. N. A concerned friend found her there after being unable to reach Solis. Google Earth
    Police said the car was parked in her driveway at 7380 Organdy Dr. N in the Meadowlawn neighborhood.
  2. Ricky Fitzgerald Hathorn, 50, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for the 2015 murders of Tommy Skeens and Lara Kuchar. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    A jury found Ricky Fitzgerald Hathorn guilty in the 2015 slayings of Tommy Skeens and Lara Kuchar. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.
  3. Travis Polk, 30, seen here in a public photo on his Facebook page, died on Nov. 16, 2019, six days after he was critically injured in a fight with his half brother Jose Vasquez, Jr. outside of Brandon Crossroads Bowl, authorities say. Vasquez was charged with manslaughter. Facebook
    Travis Polk, 30, died after his head hit the pavement multiple times while fighting with Jose Vasquez, Jr., who is now charged with manslaughter, records show.
  4. The New York Times newspaper on the shelf at the Citrus County Library Lakes Region at 1511 Druid Rd. on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 in Inverness. The Citrus County Commison was looking to eliminate the cost of the New York Times digital subscriptions because they say it is "Fake News." A former Mets GM has stepped up and wants to donate money to the Citrus County Libraries to cover the cost of the subscriptions. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    After Citrus commissioners voted down the digital subscription, library leaders say they cannot accept thousands of dollars from GoFundMe pages.
  5. In this Nov. 2, 2017, photo, Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters following a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The finding is part of a Justice Department inspector general investigation into the FBI’s probe of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
  6. President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Tuesday, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    The President called in to “Fox & Friends” to say he was trying to root out corruption in the Eastern European nation when he withheld aid over the summer.
  7. An aerial view of Florida Ave. directly across from E. Kentucky Ave. where Zion Cemetery is once located.  Today, the property is owned by Richard Gonzmart. SANTANA, LUIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Richard Gonzmart says he previously misspoke. He expects to know for sure by the end of the year.
  8. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    He was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg as a “trauma alert” with potentially life-threatening injuries
  9. Pinellas Pasco Circuit Court Judge William H. Burgess III, listens in court Friday during a hearing in the case against James Rybicki, 63. Burgess earlier this month wrote an excoriating order tossing out evidence collected in a search of Rybicki's home, saying prosecutors and detectives lied to obtain the warrant. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Prosecutors did not drop charges against Rybicki at a Friday hearing, despite a judge’s order in which he excoriated investigators for lying to obtain a search warrant. The judge wrote the cause could...
  10. A Spirit Airlines plane before getting ready to push back and depart from one of their four gates at the Tampa International Airport on Tuesday. Spirit, a low-cost, Florida-based airline, has increased the number of cities it serves from Tampa 50 percent in two years. And in a recent 12-month period, Spirit's passengers accounted for 38 percent of the airport's total growth in passengers. Spirit is not only raising its profile in Tampa. It is pursuing rapid growth nationwide, with plans to move its corporate headquarters from Miramar to a new $250 million headquarters building in Dania Beach in Broward County. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    In 12 months, the number of passengers at Tampa International Airport has grown by about 1.1 million. Spirit Airlines accounts for 38 percent of those fliers.