LONSBERRY: Murder Strikes Henton Family Again

I suspect Ralik came to gather her home.

As the ambulance sped away from Buffalo Road, Monday at noon, the medics working furiously to keep her alive, I suspect that it was Ralik who came to take her away.

Twenty-five years after he was shot, a teen-ager walking home from Bible college, four times through the back, and gone home himself in the walkway of his family’s house.

Tracy Henton-Williams is dead, as to things of this world.

She is newly alive, as to things of another.

And her dear parents know afresh a quarter century later the evil that violence can do.

They are Dolphus and Constance Henton.

And when Ralik was killed they spoke of love and peace and of their faith. 

I sat in their home. I heard their prayers and I saw their tears. I held the blood-stained dollar bills with the bullet hole in them, the ones that had been in his shirt pocket. I stood by the gate where he fell.

And I saw a community that said, “Never again.”

Never again.

Never agains that have collected since like trash and broken glass in the tall grass of a drug house. 

All the pledges, all the promises, all the marches, memorials and initiatives.

It’s all the same, it never changes, we just go numb. The victims are younger, the crimes are more gruesome, the pain is the same.

But it never changes.

The politicians milk it, the activists try to get grants out of it, the scholars study it.

And not a damned thing changes.

And Monday at noon in front of Rick’s Prime Rib he pushed her out of the car and she rolled like a rag doll some 20 feet. She was stabbed in the chest and in the neck and some of her last words were, “Call 9-1-1.” Strangers tended her and medics rushed to her and Ralik came for her.

And Dolphus and Constance will bury another child.

Sit through another trial.

Endure another horror.

“It’s tough on me,” Dolphis told me in 1993. “I get up in the morning with him on my mind. I retire with him on my mind. It’s overbearing.

“On a daily basis, I drink the water of sorrow and eat the bread of affliction.”

And what was true then, is true again now.

And the abject failure of Rochester to come to grips with the violence in its streets is forcing the water of sorrow and the bread of affliction on countless families of every situation and circumstance. Week after week after week. The street-side memorials proliferate, and the RIP t-shirts and Virgin of Guadalupe candles are a steady business. 

But nothing changes. 

“His voice is still crying from his grave,” Constance told me when Ralik was killed. “We’ve got to stop the violence. Every one of us. None of us can ignore it.

“It’s you and me, and we can’t afford to talk about it anymore. We have to work. Every one of us has to take action.


That’s what Ralik Henton’s mother said when he was killed.

A year later, his father said the same thing.

“Knowing Ralik, he would say stop all the wrongdoing, and one’s wicked ways,” Dolphus said. “That’s what Christ would have asked, that you repent.

“If each and every one thought about their own behavior, their self, what they are doing wrong, and correcting it – that would be a start.

“People have to look at what they do wrong and say, ‘This is not good for me. This is not good for society. This is hurting us all.’

“Just the plain common sense do-the-right things.

“The ones who are involved in evil behavior could bring around a great change just by putting their life in order. And those who are not can be an influence for good.

“Everybody should have a part in this.”

That’s what grieving parents said 25 years ago.

And now that murder has visited them again, their words are just as true.

And just as ignored.


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