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Schlitterbahn co-owner has criminal past

Jeff Henry also faces domestic violence claims
Posted at 7:34 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 20:35:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The co-owner of Schlitterbahn posted a $500,000 bond to get out of the Wyandotte County Jail.

Jeff Henry is charged with murder after the 2016 death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab who died riding the Verruckt water slide.

Henry was one of the men who designed the ride.

The charges against Henry, in this case, are not the first time he's been accused of a crime.

Henry has a history of drug arrests and domestic violence accusations.

But nothing as serious as the charges he now faces.

"This is just ridiculous," said Carl Cornwell, Henry's attorney.

Cornwell argues Henry and others have already taken responsibility for Caleb's death as part of a $20 million civil settlement with the Schwab family.

"I don't know why people think this is a criminal case, it makes no sense to me. This isn't a criminal case, it's just not," Cornwell said.

Texas court records show Henry was found guilty of possessing between four ounces and five pounds of marijuana in 1994.

He was fined $10,000.

Then in 2007, he was convicted of possessing between two and four ounces of marijuana and fined $4,000.

Now, a judge will determine on Thursday if Henry needs an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts when he heads back to Texas and awaits his murder trial.

"There's no way... reason, anything to suggest that my client is a danger to society," Cornwell said.

In Texas court records, Henry's estranged wife Louise Settree claims Henry has serious mental illness.

She claims Henry physically and mentally abused her for years including threatening to kill her.

"There was a lot of hitting, there was a lot of kicking, there was a lot of rape, there was using a belt," Settree testified in court records.

"He's crazy, he pulled a gun on me. He made me hold the bullets and raped me for three hours," Settree added.

Settree also claims Henry stomped on her foot so hard, it's required pins to repair the breaks.

The comments are part of an ongoing domestic abuse and divorce case.

Stephen Orsinger, Henry's attorney in that case, vehemently denies those accusations.

Orsinger says none of those claims have been found to be valid by a judge or a jury in either a criminal case or the ongoing divorce case.

Now, Henry's facing a murder case.

"This is not about him, it's about that little boy," Cornwell said.

Caleb's death isn't the first time someone has died at a Schlitterbahn water park.

Lifeguard Nico Benavides, who was 20 at the time, died in March 2013.

It happened after the wave generator gate from the company's South Padre Island, Texas water park hit Benavides on the head and pinned him against a wall.

He later died at a hospital after being taken off life support.

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA found six safety violations and noted "Schlitterbahn tragically exposed its workers to unnecessary risks. OSHA will not tolerate such neglect."

The investigation found the company failed to properly train employees and Schlitterbahn paid $60,000 in fines.