Well, we’ll tell you. Second-degree murder is what you can get charged with when you should have known better. Drunk drivers get charged with 2DM, because they know they shouldn’t get hammered and drive because they might kill somebody, then get hammered and drive and kill somebody anyway. The state’s case gets an assist because Schooley and Henry made a lot of on the record comments regarding the danger of and their limited expertise in building something of Verrückt’s nature. Oops. 


Factor in the company’s receipt of a pre-opening engineering study that said there was a possibility that the ride’s rafts could behave exactly as Caleb Schwab’s — go airborne where it did — and a case can be made. (Henry holds that the study was based on outdated data.) 


We’re not saying Henry and Schooley are guilty of second-degree murder. Or any kind of murder. Or even manslaughter. At all. We’re just explaining the state’s rationale behind the charge. Because we knew what you were thinking and now trust that you’re satisfied. 


In the end, Caleb’s family was awarded $20 million, and Henry was prohibited by the state of Kansas to examine the ride to see what exactly went wrong. That prohibition might be enough to get past the murder charge. Time will tell. 




On October 13, Henry was charged in Johnson County, KS with whatever crimes go with possession of and intent to distribute the methamphetamine, and what used to be called “paying for somebody to leave after sex” but is now more accurately referred to as “human trafficking”. The alleged crimes took place in July, one day after a hearing on the Verrückt case, meaning that Henry broke the cardinal rule of being in trouble, which is “Don’t get into any more trouble.” 


According to court records, Henry was busted at a Drury Inn with 61.3 grams of meth, 18 hypodermic needles, and 16 Xanax. And his girlfriend. And a prostitute human trafficking victim to whom he allegedly promised a full condo if she was compliant.  


Also according to court records, Henry agreed to pay the victim’s manager pimp human trafficker $240 in cash in addition to ten day-passes to the KC Schlitterbahn, prompting the creation of this park-based fan art: 



If admissible, this sex-and-drug thing will factor into the case two ways — the prosecution will use it to demonstrate that Henry is a reckless party boy, while the defense will maintain that Caleb Schwab’s horrifying death has sent Henry into a spiral of mental illness and self-destruction. From where we’re sitting, the latter looks closer to reality, as one soul-crushing tragedy turns into two. 


But we’re sitting in Jeff Henry’s hometown, and Kansas is a different story. 




Mike Reynolds