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Family of 12-year-old Brian Henderson speaks out after son's killer is held accountable in court

'Grief is forever'
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Posted at 4:28 PM, May 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-14 19:33:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The parents of Brian “BJ” Henderson are speaking out after the person responsible for killing their 12-year-old son was held accountable.

Jaylon LaRon Johnson, 18, was found guilty this week on four charges, including first-degree murder, after he shot and killed Brian who was sitting in the backseat of a car on April 14, 2021.

“Even though it’s been a year, I still … grief is forever,” said Monica Henderson, Brian's mother. “Justice has been served, but there’s no happy ending.”

Despite a slight sense of closure, there is still a large void left to fill for the family. They miss their son’s big smile and his happy-go-lucky personality the most.

The family said the hardest part has been accepting that he is no longer with them, especially on holidays and birthdays. Henderson says watching her son’s friends grow up and live out their lives without him is a hard pill to swallow as well.

“I still break down and cry in the shower, I still have my days where I can’t get out of bed. I still miss my son like it just happened yesterday,” she said. “I have to believe that my son didn’t die in vain. There was a reason that God took him.”

In the process of healing, the Henderson family has created the Brian Derek Henderson Foundation. Under the foundation, Project 9:14 was born to help guide minors on probation. It will provide housing, food, education and counseling for juveniles in the system.

The idea came to the family after finding out the teen who killed Brian was on the last day of his probation for a prior crime. He was under no supervision for 20 days.

The Brian Derek Henderson Foundation has been established as a nonprofit and will rely on the community for financial support and donations.

“Project 9:14 is the bridge of success from the courtroom to the probation office,” Henderson said. “Everybody is not a good candidate for probation — some people don’t have good home lives, don’t have support systems. … So we’re going to be the bridge to make sure that if you don’t have those things, we get you those things or refer you to somewhere that can help you become a better person.”

On Saturday, family and friends were at two IMKC locations encouraging shoppers to sign a petition supporting Project 9:14. They hope the signatures will get the foundation and project recognized by the court system so that they can start changing the lives of troubled youth.

“These are children taking the lives of children. So they need support, they need guidance, they need oversight so that they are not out in the streets committing more crimes,” said close family friend Marcellus Casey. “We spent time going to court with Brian and Monica and watching these juvenile offenders. These children testify and you do see that they are kids.”

Gloria Lewey, who was out on a shopping spree, ran into the Hendersons and decided to sign the petition.

“If this will help another child, if it’ll prevent them from going and getting in trouble like this, I’ll do what I can,” Lewey said.

The petition has gained over 600 signatures thus far.

“I think that God taking my son was the push to say I need to, I need to win the war,” Henderson said.