When I tell people about Tom Henry, almost everybody asks me the same question: “Why would you write this story?”
In 1983 I was twenty-nine years old with a wife and three children, a successful businessman fulfilling my dream to design orthopedic braces, and a Christian—I’d done missionary work in Bolivia and was a Bible-reading believer down to my toes.
That life ended when I returned from a business trip to discover my wife and children viciously murdered in our home.
From the moment I showed up I was the first and only suspect. One year in hell later I found myself convicted of a quadruple murder and given a never-get-out prison sentence.
I suffered through more than seven years of incarceration before the legal system found me not guilty. During those years, a best-selling book was published about my case: Reasonable Doubt, by Steve Vogel.
Tom Henry was one of the first inmates I met in prison. In a place populated by violent inmates and ignorant guards, he stuck out as a guy you could count on for sound advice, a helping hand, or a light-hearted witticism just when you needed it.
At a time when I struggled not to lose my faith, Tom Henry was a testimony to God’s love in a sea of moral darkness—not the kind of “witness” who drums his religion into you but one who lives his faith even in the depressing conditions of prison life.
A good man.
I found it difficult to reconcile this goodness with the fact that this particular good Christian man had murdered two people. And not just murdered—he’d struck the head of the woman he loved, the mother of his child, with his rifle, over and over again, so severely that parts of the stock broke off.
It’s easy to label someone like Tom Henry a monster, suggesting that he doesn’t share our humanity. This is a comfortable but dangerous fiction—comfortable because it allows us to feel superior, dangerous because it enables us to ignore the truth that within each of us lies the capacity for evil. The truth is there’s a man inside the “monster.”
I wrote this book because I discovered in Tom Henry a man whose life demonstrates violence and gentleness, cruelty and compassion, selfishness and benevolence. The only way to reveal the complexity of the man was to tell the whole story of the man.
And I wrote this book because Tom Henry’s story is hands down the best story I’ve ever heard.