Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Double Jeopardy: Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis

An Obvious Suspect

Kathryn Eastburn with daughters.
Kathryn Eastburn with daughters.

Another neighbor, Patrick Cone, told police that he'd seen a man leaving the Summerhill Road house Thursday night, the same night that forensics experts believed Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters were murdered. Cone described a tall man wearing a black Members Only jacket and carrying a large garbage bag as he walked from the house to a white Chevette.

When police released a sketch of the man Cone saw and a description of the car, Sgt. Timothy Hennis and his wife saw it on the evening news. It was only then, he would always claim, that he realized that the victims were the family who had sold him the dog. He voluntarily went to investigators. He was the spitting image of the man in the sketch and he drove a white Chevette. And he had brought a black Members Only jacket to a dry cleaner that Friday. Neighbors said he'd been burning unidentified material in an oil drum in his backyard that morning too.

The Eastburn home.
The Eastburn home.

Cone picked Hennis out of a line-up. Hennis willingly provided blood and saliva samples, and he seemed confident in his loose alibi. He told cops that on Thursday night he'd dropped his wife and children off at his in-laws and gone straight home to work on the dollhouse he was building for his daughter. Later, ex-girlfriend Nancy Maeser would tell detectives that Hennis had made a brief, unannounced visit to her home that night, presumably to rekindle their relationship. They talked about his money problems and he claimed he and Angela were splitting up, but she sent him away.

The missing ATM card provided another lead. Cops located the customer who had used the machine just a couple minutes after the Eastburns' card was used. Lucille Cook recalled that a man wearing camouflage pants had used the ATM; looking at police mug shots, she matched the ATM user with Hennis's photo.

The case quickly went to trial.

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