Parole Hearing for Henry Hillenbrand

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

Tom Henry’s parole hearing was scheduled for last Thursday, March 21. Before I tell you what I know about how it went, let me start with a dark joke. (Yes, your Honor, it’s relevant.)

Question: What do you call the guy who graduates from medical school with the lowest grades in his class?

Answer: Doctor

That said, let me tell you a little about the two Northwestern University law students working on Henry’s Parole Hearing. Both were assigned to assist Henry with his parole hearing by the legal director of the Chicago Uptown People’s Law Center, Alan Mills, a Northwestern adjunct Professor. Alan Mills is a prince among men, standing up for the poor and disenfranchised, doing pro bono work for justice for those unjustly treated by the Illinois Department of Corrections, slumlords, and other tyrants. For more information or to donate to this worthy cause go to

Back to the law students assigned to help Henry. By assigning two, Alan Mills assured the safety of redundancy, which was good because on the date of Henry’s parole hearing, one was on a school-related trip to South America, so her partner was slated to attend Henry’s hearing to speak for him.

I received an urgent text that evening from Henry’s son, Tom Elliott of southwestern Missouri, asking me to call him. He was agitated. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “The lawyer never showed,” he said, “and the parole board lady asked Dad if he wanted to go on with the hearing and he said yes, since his sister and her husband had driven all the way there for it.”

I could imagine the blow to the gut that must have been for Henry—now that he’s done 30 years with good behavior and is 65 years old and has a realistic chance at parole—to have entered that hearing room and to be told his lawyer didn’t show or even call and to have felt he had to continue with the hearing because of his sister driving over four hours to be there. I felt so bad for him.

I was at dinner with friends at the time, but I immediately emailed Alan Mills from my phone to ask what had happened. He didn’t know, but he forwarded my email to the student who hadn’t showed and the next morning the answer arrived:

“Prof. Mills, I planned on making the trip today, but I had car trouble and couldn’t obtain another car for the day. I spent all of yesterday trying to get my car repaired. By 7pm I knew I wouldn’t be able to have it fixed in time. I didn’t know who to call at that hour to inform Henry I wouldn’t be able to make it. David, extend my apologies to Henry.”

I wanted to scream! Not just because this sounded like a the-dog-ate-my-homework excuse, but even if it were true, he says he “didn’t know who to call.” How about the parole board (IPRB)? Any lawyer representing any parole applicant has to communicate with them and has their contact information. How about Alan Mills, the Professor who assigned him? How about Henry’s sister or his son or me, all of whose contact information he has? How about Henry at the prison? According to his story, he had all day Wednesday to think about this.

Well, hopefully this won’t end badly for Henry. He still has a chance at parole. The letters of support people wrote have gone to the parole board, I’m told. The student who is now in Chile plans to attend the en banc hearing in Springfield. I don’t know when that is scheduled.

As I’ve said before, to all who have shown interest and support, thank you. To those of you who pray, please continue doing so.

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

Like Author Hendricks on FacebookFollow Author Hendricks on Twitter

Where Can I Buy Tom Henry?

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

For months now, when friends and family have asked, “where can I buy your book?” I’ve been saying, “Only Amazon.” Now I have a fuller answer!

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer is now available online as an ebook ($2.99) and online and in stores as a paperback. The ebook is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but very soon—possibly by the time you read this—it will also be sold by Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, the Diesel eBook Store, and more!

The paperback ($11.99) can be bought online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but also at all Barnes & Noble brick and mortar stores. Unfortunately, they don’t carry it in stock, but step up to their order desk and they’ll have it sent to your home or to the store—the latter at no charge—within two or three business days. Independent bookstores will also be able to order Tom Henry, but not Books-A-Million.

A funny thing happened that I don’t quite understand—but I’m not complaining. A couple of weeks ago Barnes & Noble reduced their online price of the paperback from $11.99 to $7.65, then just a few days later, Amazon matched that price. As I say, I don’t know why, but I’m happy Tom Henry now costs less.

On a related note, next week I’ll fly to Central Illinois to talk to a few media outlets about Tom Henry. The timing is right for such a trip, both because the book is just now becoming available on multiple platforms, but also because Henry’s parole hearing is scheduled for March 21.

I know that Henry would appreciate the prayers of those of you who pray. For those who have written him since reading the book, thank you.

If you’d like to write a letter to the Parole Board in support of Henry Hillenbrand, it needs to be mailed by March 6. It should be addressed to:

Illinois Prisoner Review Board
319 East Madison Street, Suite A
Springfield, IL 62701

It should be mailed to:

Uptown People’s Law Center

4413 North Sheridan

Chicago, IL 60640

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

Like Author Hendricks on FacebookFollow Author Hendricks on Twitter

Tom Henry, now a Book with Real Paper Pages

Hi friends. This is my first blog for a while. During the holidays Gazel and I were on vacation. We traveled to Davao, the southernmost of the three large Philippine islands, to relax and visit family.

Now we’re back home and, since we closed the office at the end of the year, we’re back to working in our home offices. To me it feels like I’m retired, which I suppose I am until next August, when my agreement not to compete with the company who bought HOPE Orthopedic expires and I’m free to once again work in my chosen profession of orthotics and prosthetics.

Waiting for me upon my return was the first printed paperback proof of my book. Finally! I spent a few days of slow reading, searching for typos. I found two and neither interfered with readability, so I accepted it. Just last Friday I got notice that the paperback version is now for sale on Amazon.

So Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer is now available in paperback and as an ebook! Whether we do a hardcover version or an audiobook will depend on interest.

Thank you for supporting me in my journey as a first-time author. Now it’s on to six months’ retirement, during which time I might start work on my second book. Or play golf. Or ride my Harley. Or read. Or sleep.

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

Like Author Hendricks on FacebookFollow Author Hendricks on Twitter

Marshmallows and Pizza

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

One sign of maturity in humans is the ability to defer gratification. Small children must have what they want NOW! As we become adults, to a greater or lesser extent, we are able to understand how waiting for something might improve our satisfaction on achieving it.

In 1972 researchers at Stanford did an experiment on this very subject. They selected a group of children ranging in age from 4 to 6. Each child they placed in a room where a marshmallow rested on a table. They told the child he (or she) could eat the marshmallow whenever they wanted to, but if they would refrain from eating it for 15 minutes, they would get two to eat.

The researchers discovered what they thought they would; that, as children grow older, their ability to defer gratification increases. But through a follow-up study years later they discovered something they had not anticipated. Those children who had exhibited the greatest control turned out to be better behaved and superior academically.

So it should come as no surprise that prison inmates are among the worst in this respect, none more so than the inmate Tom Henry told me about one night in our cell.

(This short story got cut from the Tom Henry manuscript as part of the editing process whereby 1,100 pages became 350 pages.)

By the time of this story Tom Henry and I were Lifers. The Lifers were an organization of inmates with long sentences. They were chartered by the prison administration as a program to help inmates learn real-world skills. The Lifers sold snack foods and articles of clothing. The Lifer salesmen stopped by each cell each night to take orders for delivery the next night. In each cell house was an oven for heating pizzas and hot sandwiches, and a cooler for keeping ice cream.

Tom Henry was the Lifer runner (cell house order taker) on one and three galleries of the South cell house. One night, upon returning to our cell from Lifer duty he told me this story.

“One of the guys on the bug gallery stopped me last night,” Tom Henry said.

“‘Hey, Lifer man.’ It was a guy who had never ordered. ‘I got fifteen dollars from a visit today. I hate going to that damn chow hall.’

“‘Okay. What do you want?’

“’What will fifteen dollars buy?’ he said. I showed him the menu. ‘I’ll have two supreme pizzas, uh, two sub sandwiches, a vanilla ice cream—pint, uh, let’s see here, uh, two ice cream sandwiches, uh, a six-pack of Pepsi. Do I have enough for that?’

“’Well, hold it a second, man,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you buy one thing each night? Then you can stay out of the chow hall several nights.’

“The guy got real mad. ‘Are you gonna friggin’ take my order or not?’

“I helped him figure out the most he could buy for fifteen dollars and I took his order.

“Tonight, I was taking Lifer orders about an hour after tonight’s food was delivered. As I passed that guy’s cell, he was standing at his door in his underwear, eyes bulging, stomach tight as a stretched drum skin, and on his top bunk was the packaging for two hot sandwiches, two pizzas, two ice cream sandwiches, and a pint of ice cream.  Still on the bed was a whole pizza, minus one piece, and some Pepsi.

“‘Hey Road Dog,’ he said. ‘Want a piece of pizza?’”

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

Like Author Hendricks on FacebookFollow Author Hendricks on Twitter

Coons Catching Chickens

This blog presents one of the many stories Tom Henry told me in our prison cell. The Tom Henry manuscript, which began at 1,100 pages, has now shrunk to a 300-page book, and this story was lost to the cutting, but it’s a good one. This story we also offer as a live prison recording. Enjoy!

When I was first a fugitive in Missouri, before I got married, I worked at the chicken plant. For a while I lived in a homemade camper I built in the bed of a pickup I called old Betsy. It wasn’t just cheaper, it was more convenient too. I worked all hours for the chicken plant at the time so it was handy to sleep right there in my camper.

Some chickens get loose off the loading dock when you’re hanging them. We have guys that go around catching chickens, but they usually don’t catch them all. They’d chase them all around in the woods and along the creek.

I was parked right down from the chicken plant this night, where all the trees were, on the left side of the chicken plant, sleeping. Chickens usually roosted in the trees at night. I heard this noise and I looked out my Plexiglas window. There were mercury lights there, so I could see these two coons.

Three chickens were on a limb on the right side of this tree. They were high enough where the coons couldn’t get them from the ground. So one coon went up the tree and walked out onto the branch. The other coon stayed on the ground under the branch. Now, a chicken won’t fly at night, unless they’re pushed off a branch, ‘cause they can’t see well in the dark.

The coon on the branch walked out far enough on the branch so the chickens had to go way out to the edge. The limb bent down under their weight and the coon below got the one farthest out, then the coon on the limb eased back to the tree trunk, and the two coons took off.

I was thinking they were smart to figure out a way to get that chicken, but I didn’t nearly realize how clever they really were. By easing off the branch, the one coon avoided scaring the other two off. I saw the two coons come back into view about twenty minutes later. They repeated the procedure, got one more chicken, and left. Within about an hour, they wound up getting all three.

Smart coons!

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, is now available on Amazon as an ebook.


David Hendricks

The Clever Fox

This blog presents one of the many stories Tom Henry told me in our prison cell. The Tom Henry manuscript, which began at 1,100 pages, has now shrunk to 370, and this story was lost to the cutting, but it’s a good one. Enjoy!

“I was in a tree stand, watching the deer hunters walk through a field toward me. You climb a tree so the deer can’t smell or see you there – they don’t look up. I was point man for the hunting party. Ten men in a line were making a drive. They were walking slowly, about fifty yards apart, so I had time to watch the fox and still keep my eye peeled for deer.

“While I was waiting, I spotted a red fox by the creek. I brought my gun up to watch him through the scope. I could see the hunters by naked eye.

“That fox picked up a piece of driftwood, I’d say two inches around and fourteen inches long, and grabbed one end of the stick between his teeth. He backed into the water up to his hips and stayed in that position a few minutes. He backed up a little more, so his mid body was in the water, and held still.

“What could he be doing? I had the scope up to 9X. He backed up to his shoulders, and paused, then he backed up to his chin, and waited, and then he swam out into the water, letting himself float with the current. Then his head disappeared, and all you could see was the stick pointing straight downstream, and finally he let go of it. It floated downstream while he dog-paddled to the shore, shook himself, and walked away.

“For months I wondered about that red fox with the stick in the creek. I’ve shot a lot of foxes with ticks and fleas in their fur and I’ve noticed, when I put a fox hide in water, they all came up out of the hair.

“That red fox must have had fleas and, by backing into the water, he slowly got them onto the stick and then he got rid of them.

“I used that story as a sermon in church later. ‘The fox is us, the fleas are our sins, and the stick is Jesus, who took our sins on him, leaving us free and clean.’”

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, will be e-published in September.


David Hendricks

Coming Blogs

Because I’m a new author, I figured I’d better start a blog—my first book, Tom Henry, will be published in September. Normally a first blog would give readers some idea of what’s coming but, since I got derailed by a news story that struck a nerve the first time, I’m doing that here.

So what will I blog about? Well, I’ve got two rules: First, the age-old writer’s advice, “write what you know.” Second, “write what others might want to read.”

So here are my three categories of blog themes:

Editorial – These will include my take on recent events. June’s blog was an example. A news story appeared days before I wrote it, and I had an opinion on that subject based on my life experience.

Tom Henry – I’ve just finished writing Tom Henry, a book about a double murderer who escaped and lived as a fugitive for 13 years and told me his story in a prison cell—tales of murder, escape, life on the lam, and anecdotes of animals, birds, bees and snakes.

Crime and Punishment – I learned a lot, in my seven years of incarceration, about criminal thinking and behavior, as well as the thinking and behavior of the criminal justice system.

I’ll occasionally write about my hobbies and interests—things such as humor and sports, or airplanes and motorcycles.

Be on the lookout for one of the Tom Henry true stories. From a tree stand in the woods he observed a fox self-administering a flea-and-tick treatment. You’ll be amazed at what this smart little fellow did.

I thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. If you have an idea for a post, please let me know.

My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, will be e-published in September.


David Hendricks