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Deputy Dunklin hugging Stacie

Location: Tyler, Texas
Date: April 16, 1989


StoryEdit

Shortly before noon on April 16, 1989 in Tyler, Texas, seven-year-old Stacie Henderson and her six-year-old friend, Josh Oliver, were walking down the road to return a video game to a neighbor. They were just a few hundred yards from Stacie's house when an unfamiliar man pulled up beside them in his car, grabbed Stacie, and pulled her in. Josh ran to her house and told her older sister, Dee, what happened. "It hit me really hard that Stacie had been kidnapped. After he got his breath back he told us that it was a white man with bushy dark hair and that he was driving a large brown sedan bigger than his mother's," said Dee. 

Immediately, Dee went to look for Stacie, while their adoptive mother, Velma Henderson, went inside the house to call 911. Her call was taken by dispatcher Tammy Macklin. Smith County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Dunklin responded, but he was fifteen minutes away.

Dee headed to the Ulshes' house, where Stacie had been headed, to see if she was there. She wasn't, and that was when Dee realized it was not a joke. Jack and Lois Ulsh immediately got in their car, and went to the Hendersons' house, where Lois relayed the information to Macklin, and called neighbors one-by-one, telling them what happened, while Jack went to drive to nearby houses to gather up neighbors. Dunklin arrived and asked Josh about the suspect, and he told him what happened. He said that it was a white man with bushy brown hair and a mustache, which he hadn't shaved for a few days. His hands and fingernails were really filthy with dirt and grease and he was wearing a blue shirt and blue pants.  

Soon, as many as forty to fifty cars were on the road looking for the suspect vehicle. Deputies Bobbie McGee and Albena Brewer also responded, setting up a stake-out at a busy intersection, where they soon noticed a large brown sedan matching the description of the suspect's vehicle. The suspect started a hot pursuit with Brewer and McGee chasing him. Then his car slid into a ditch. Brewer and McGee yelled for him and Stacie to get out of the car. They got him out and arrested him, and Stacie got out too.

Dunklin heard on his radio that they found the car, When they heard that the suspect was being arrested, Dee and Josh's mother, Lisa Oliver and Dunklin drove to the location, telling each other that everything was fine, even though they knew that may not have been the case. Several other deputies also drove to the scene. Dunklin found Stacie in Brewer's car, gave her a hug, and they both cried. Then he recognized the suspect as his former neighbor. He has a daughter Stacie's age and it effected him emotionally about the suspect being his former neighbor because he was thinking it could've been his daughter that was kidnapped by the suspect instead of Stacie.

The suspect, Ben Lawrence, was discovered to be armed with a knife. Duct tape and a club were found in his car. He subsequently was convicted of aggrevated kidnapping, and sentenced to life in prison. Stacie returned home to her family.

Nearly a year later, Stacie's life returned to normal. "She sleeps with me all the time," said Velma. Stacie didn't talk a lot about the kidnapping because it still upset her.