Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Slayer of Gay Opera Singers Faces Execution in Texas

Derrick L. Jackson, TDCJ photo

Huntsville, TX – On July 20, Derrick L. Jackson, 42, is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the 1988 double homicide of two gay men from Houston.  Jackson maintains his innocence, claiming to have been framed in order to solve the cold case.  According to the Houston Chronicle, the exceptionally brutal murders of Forrest Henderson and his house-guest, Richard Alan Wrotenbery, both 31, panicked the world of the Houston Grand Opera when the story of their deaths hit media in September 1988.  Both men sang tenor for the opera, and had been rehearsing Bizet’s Carmen the night before the atrocity.  Wrotenbery, by vocation a first-grade music teacher at Deer Park School, had just divorced his wife, and had accepted a room with Henderson until he could get a place of his own arranged.  After the rehearsal on September 10, Wrotenbery went back to the apartment to rest, and Henderson hit the bars in the Montrose section.  Apparently, he invited Jackson home with him.  Loud music was heard coming from the apartment late into the night, and around 4 a.m., neighbors heard a man scream loudly, “Oh my God! No! No!”  It was not until the school district contacted the apartment complex looking for Wrotenbery who had not shown up for work that the bodies of the victims were found.  Investigators remember the volume of blood in the apartment as excessive, even for a stabbing/slashing murder.  Henderson’s naked body was found stabbed repeatedly in the chest.  Wrotenbery, whom authorities presume was asleep at the time of the attack, had his throat slit.  Both men had extensive bludgeoning wounds that were most likely delivered with a heavy metal bar from an exercise set.  Henderson’s wallet was stolen as well as his car, and Wrotenbery’s wallet was also missing.  When the car was spotted the next day by Houston Police, a high-speed chase ensued until the car crashed near an apartment complex, where the driver, presumably Jackson, made his escape on foot.  The case went cold for seven years, until forensic science improved enough in 1995 to match a bloody hand print lifted from a door knob to Jackson, already serving 12 years for a string of home burglaries and other crimes.  Wrotenbery’s father, a former librarian from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, is ambivalent about the death penalty, but intends to witness the execution of his son’s killer.  He said to the Houston Chronicle, “When you come to the personal aspect of it, pure logic says for someone to do a crime of this nature, unprovoked — Alan was in the wrong place at the wrong time — it’s hard for me to think the death penalty is unjustified.” Bill Hawkins, a Harris County District Attorney who prosecuted Jackson for the murders, told the Dallas Morning News,”The scientific evidence was extremely strong. And subsequent defense testing of DNA had his numbers.” Jackson told the press that while he admitted robberies and auto theft in other cases, he never killed these two gay men.  According to the Dallas Voice, Jackson will be the 15th person to be executed by the state of Texas this year.

July 19, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slashing attacks, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. I feel torn between satisfaction that the state of Texas vigorously pursued an investigation on behalf of openly gay victims (which is often not the case), and the fact that killing another human being will only bring further injustice to this already tragic situation.

    Comment by Egon Cohen | July 23, 2010

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