Slain Teacher Was Hurt at School Before
TYLER, Texas (Sept. 24) -- Special education teacher Todd Henry worked with troubled students for years and had been injured at school before.
The onetime prison therapist who died Wednesday after being stabbed in a classroom, allegedly by one of his students, missed the first two weeks of this school year recovering from shoulder surgery after breaking up a fight at John Tyler High School last year.
"He worked in a prison for 10 years. Do you think this man was afraid? Get real," said his wife, Jan Shaw Henry.
A 16-year-old male student was being held at a juvenile detention facility, according to the Tyler school district, after authorities said he fatally stabbed Henry, 50, on Wednesday.
The student allegedly approached Henry about 8:50 a.m. and stabbed him in the neck with a sharp object, said District Superintendent Randy Reid. A teacher's aide and two other students were in the classroom, and the aide subdued the suspect before calling district police, Reid said.
Police did not offer a motive in the slaying Wednesday.
"It is our understanding at this time that there was nothing in the classroom that incited this situation," Reid said. "It was a random act."
The superintendent said the student suspect had been in and out of the district "a couple of times," but declined to provide further details, citing privacy laws.
Classes were set to resume Thursday, Reid said. The high school had been locked down for two hours after the stabbing Wednesday before officials sent students home for the day.
Jose Mundo, a 16-year-old junior at the school, said he learned of the stabbing through a text message sent by a friend during the lockdown. He said Henry, a self-taught musician who played several string instruments, was his band teacher last year.
"He was cool with you," Mundo said. "He was a nice guy."
Henry grew up in Huntsville, Texas, after his family moved there in 1973. He earned a degree in psychology with an emphasis in music therapy, working for at least a decade as a music therapist, mainly with inmates in the state's prison system, his wife said.
District spokeswoman Angela Jenkins said Henry began working for the district in 2003 at a school for special needs students and transferred four years ago to the high school in the tight-knit community of 110,000, located about 90 miles southeast of Dallas.
He worked at the high school with students who were emotionally or behaviorally challenged, according to his older brother, Jody Henry.
"He loved it," the elder Henry said. "He told me it was his calling. He had never been happier than when working with these kids."
Outside school, Henry played in several bands on the weekends and did some studio work.
"When he picked up that guitar you could tell that it came from his heart and soul," said Matt Robb, minister of instrumental music at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, where Todd Henry played guitar for the church orchestra. "It brought so much joy to his life and joy to the people who heard him play."
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