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Prosecutor: Schlitterbahn Co-Owner Arranged To Have Sex With Human Trafficking Victim

Laura Spencer
KCUR 89.3
A judge revoked the bond of Jeffrey Wayne Henry, co-designer of the Verruckt waterslide, after he was charged with drug and sex crimes in Johnson County.

Jeffrey Wayne Henry, the co-owner of the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, arranged to have sex with a female human trafficking victim and paid her in part with Schlitterbahn tickets, according to a motion to revoke Henry’s bond filed by prosecutors.

Henry faces second-degree murder and other charges in connection with the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab more than two years ago on the Verrückt waterslide in Schlitterbahn’s Kansas City, Kansas, waterpark.

On Wednesday, Wyandotte County District Judge Robert P. Burns revoked Henry’s $500,000 bond, raising it to $1 million and imposing new conditions.

Prosecutors had asked Henry to raise his bond to $2 million, saying he posed a danger to the public.

But Carl Cornwell, one of Henry’s attorneys, told the court that while Henry had “mental issues,” he was a danger to no one but himself. Cornwell and prosecutors said that Henry, who lives in Texas, was undergoing treatment at the Menninger Clinic.

The hearing came eight days after Henry was charged in Johnson County with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, possessing drug paraphernalia and hiring a person for sex.

The state’s motion alleges that the day after Henry appeared for a hearing in the Schwab case, Merriam police were dispatched to the Drury Inn at 9009 Shawnee Mission Parkway after a hotel guest called 911 to report a disturbance.

According to the motion, Henry answered the door when police arrived. After seeing the officers, he went to the bathroom and poured the contents of several bottles down the sink drain.

A woman came to the door and identified herself as Henry’s girlfriend. She began slurring her speech and making erratic body movements. Officers noticed bruising around an injection site on her neck.

The officers also noticed a woman on the bed who was pretending to sleep.

“Investigators eventually learned that Jeff Henry had arranged for a human trafficker named Ronnie Hargraves … to bring K.W., a female human trafficking victim, to Jeff Henry’s hotel room to have sexual intercourse with Jeff Henry in exchange for $400 in cash,” the motion states. “In lieu of the originally agreed upon $400, Henry paid for the illegal sexual relations using $240 in cash plus ten Schlitterbahn Waterpark all-day passes to cover the difference.”

The motion goes on to say that Henry repeatedly denied knowing illegal drugs were in the room. After the room was vacated, with the assistance of a police K9, police found a bag under the mattress with 18 hypodermic needles, a bottle with 16 Alprazolam pills and a cylindrical metal tube with a pressure gauge on one end.

Inside the tube, police found more than 61 grams of methamphetamine, which lab tests later linked to Henry via a positive DNA match.

The motion also describes an April incident in Texas that occurred right after another hearing in the Schwab case. At the hearing, Henry assured the court that he did not pose a threat to public safety.

The motion says New Braunfels, Texas, police received a 911 emergency call from a woman saying that Henry was threatening to kill her and her adult son. The woman lived more than 300 miles from the residence Henry had listed as his Texas home on his bond sheet.

During the call, which was recorded, Henry could be overhead threatening to kill the woman’s son in a profanity-laced tirade. The woman told police she was in fear for her life.

A warrant for Henry’s arrest was issued but later withdrawn, according to the motion. The case remains under review in Guadalupe County, Texas.

Henry, dressed in a jacket and blue button-down shirt and sporting a beard, said little in court on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Adam Zentner, in urging Burns to impose new bond conditions on Henry, said he threatened public safety. Zentner is an attorney in the Kansas Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the Schwab case.

Prosecutors say that Henry and the Verrückt waterslide’s other principal designer, John Schooley, built the 17-story slide without consulting qualified engineers and rushed construction to meet a TV show deadline. The waterslide, billed as the world’s tallest, is in the process of being torn down.

Henry has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Schwab, the son of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, who is the Republican nominee for secretary of state, was killed when the raft he was riding in went airborne and struck a metal pole.

The indictment describes Henry as a high school dropout with no technical or engineering credentials.

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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