Older Story: http://www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/527079.htmlMom up looking for lost son
May 10, 2009 - By JOHN PEPIN Journal Munising Bureau
McMILLAN - A downstate Hartford woman is spending Mother's Day weekend in Luce County hoping to reunite with her son - but she doesn't expect the occasion to be a happy one.
"My son is missing, it's been nine months and I believe something bad happened up there," said Betty Henagan. "My guts are telling me - from the first phone call - my son is dead."
Derrick Ray Henagan, 36, was last seen by a friend and neighbor of his walking into the woods in Luce County's Lakefield Township at about 4:30 p.m. Aug. 4.
"We don't know what happened, whether foul play was involved or not," said Michigan State Police trooper Brent Wilson from the Newberry post. "It's a missing persons mystery."
Betty Henagan and some family friends are putting out missing posters this weekend throughout Newberry and communities in the surrounding area, including Seney, Germfask, Curtis and McMillan.
Michael Neiger, lead investigator with Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue in Marquette, has assembled a team of searchers that will be in the area with dogs.
"I will be conducting joint ground, K-9 and waterway search efforts for Derrick - whom we presume to be lost," Neiger said.
Derrick's mom will also be meeting with Michigan State Police troopers to contribute comparison items for DNA testing. That genetic profile would be able to be matched with found remains.
Last November, at Betty Henagan's request, Michigan Search and Rescue personnel conducted searches with cadaver dogs of Bass, McCormick and East lakes without finding anything.
A $1,000 reward has been available through the Crime Stoppers tip line.
"We've had numerous tips," Wilson said. "They've all been followed up on with no credible results."
Derrick's mother said he came to the Upper Peninsula in January 2008, working with a traveling company that offers sales at car lots. He began living with his girlfriend Diana Maddox in Luce County.
Derrick enjoyed camping, going to the beach and bass and pike fishing. He was also a person who loved to talk on the telephone, racking up cell phone bills as high as $1,000 a month, according to his mother.
That fact alone has got many of Derrick's friends and family members very worried. No one has heard a word from him since his disappearance.
Initially, police thought Derrick wanted to run away. He had accumulated a few misdemeanor warrants, mostly for failing to appear in court.
"In the beginning, we thought he would turn up," Wilson said.
Derrick was last seen on a Monday. His mother said he and Maddox had been arguing the weekend prior, prompting Derrick to leave, staying with the neighbor as he had been off and on for a couple of weeks.
He called home and after his mother had refused to come and get him, his father agreed to send him a bus ticket to come back to Van Buren County. Derrick did not have a car.
"He said he couldn't take it anymore," Betty Henagan said.
But first, on the day he disappeared, Derrick had agreed to meet Maddox at a deer blind in the woods. Maddox went there. She told police Henagan never arrived.
The last person to see Derrick was the neighbor who said he saw him head toward the woods.
Three weeks after Derrick's disappearance, police used a dog to search the area he was said to have vanished in. They found nothing. Troopers said that place had rolling terrain and brush cover easily navigable by tracking dogs.
Police have questioned Maddox.
"She has been investigated, certainly," Wilson said. "And right now we have no reason to consider her a suspect. This is a missing persons case for us."
Derrick's mother said her son could get mean if he'd been drinking alcohol. She said he'd gotten into fights with a few men from the local area.
"He wasn't no angel," she said. "He had a bad side."
But he also had a softer side that wouldn't allow him to be without contact with his family for this long. Derrick had also reportedly never lived by himself before, always with his mother, wife or girlfriend.
"Derrick has not got it in him to do something like this to go off and be by himself, he's always had to have someone take care of him," his mother said.
Though searchers keep telling Betty Henagan to hold out hope, she has grave suspicions about her son's whereabouts.
"I think somebody up there killed him," she said. "I should have went and got my son."
Resolute, she vows to keep searching for the answer to the mystery surrounding her son's strange disappearance.
"Sooner or later, somebody will talk because somebody up there knows what happened," she said. "I'm not going to shut up about it. I know something happened."