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Police found mayor and wife in bloody dispute

  • Mayor Mike Henry is shown in late March at a candidates forum at the Carbondale Civic Center.

    Mayor Mike Henry is shown in late March at a candidates forum at the Carbondale Civic Center.

By Geoff Ritter
updated: 4/15/2019 9:29 AM

Dramatic new details paint a different picture of what might have transpired at Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry's home just a few days before he comfortably won a second term in office.

On the afternoon before the April 2 election, the city issued a press release acknowledging that at around 11:45 p.m. March 30, two Carbondale police officers were on foot patrol in the 1200 block of West Hill when they heard a disturbance coming from the mayor's house.

The investigation revealed a disturbance was occurring between the mayor and his wife. The officers remained at the scene until officers from the SIU Department of Public Safety responded to complete an independent investigation at the request of the Carbondale Police Department.

There were no arrests or charges filed, and there reportedly were no injuries "requiring medical treatment." Henry responded to the incident on his Facebook page on the eve of the election.

"Our porch doors were open and our arguing drew the attention of a police foot patrol, who were walking the neighborhood in response to some recent thefts," Henry wrote. "Ironically, they were doing exactly what they should have been doing as part of the targeted foot patrol policies I have been encouraging.

"There was never any violence, or threat of violence," Henry added. "Just some hurt feelings in a difficult family situation."

But an SIU Police report obtained this week by the Carbondale Times and other media paints a contradictory picture in which both Henry and his wife were found with blood on them. According to the document, SIU officers "photographed John's injuries and Theresa's bloody clothing and where Theresa reported being struck." They also found that "John had a bite mark on his right hand and scratches on his chest from some type of struggle over a cell phone with Theresa."

The report concludes that the mayor willingly left the home for the rest of the night.

Coincidentally, the new details come just as the mayor and city council have found themselves involved in another discussion about the city's police force.

At Tuesday's meeting of the city council, a routine city budget hearing quickly morphed into an occasionally tense discussion about the size of the police department, which the grassroots organization Carbondale Spring and its organizer, Nick Smaligo, say is far too large for a community the size of Carbondale.

The proposed city budget for FY2020, which must be enacted by the beginning of May, carves out nearly $10.3 million to fund the police department, accounting for nearly a third of the city's overall budgeted expenditures. The department currently employs about 81 people.

"That's double the number of police officers, double the number of police employees for the average city of this size -- and for every similarly sized college town in Illinois I could find," Smaligo said, citing statistics compiled by the FBI. Smaligo also questioned the metrics used to determine the department's reported calls for service.

Henry defended the police against Smaligo's assertions, drawing on his own more than 50 years living in and near Carbondale.

"This is the best police department we've ever had," Henry said, warning against any reduction in its size. "That will hurt the community. That will hurt SIU enrollment."

On Wednesday night, one night after the council meeting and after news had broken of the police reports, Smaligo and others occupied the Carbondale Civic Center, demanding that Henry resign for misleading the public about the incident on the eve of the election -- and, by their account, assuming that the police would do nothing to correct Henry's version of events. They also protested at the civic center Thursday evening.

Smaligo addressed the issue Thursday on the Carbondale Spring website.

"Mike Henry very likely knew that the Carbondale Police Department, and the SIU Police Department, wouldn't publicly contradict his lie," Smaligo wrote. "He knew the police were the only other people who knew it was a lie, and he knew his secret was safe with them. After all, he's their biggest supporter."

Henry has not responded to a message from the Times seeking comment, but this story will be updated as new information becomes available.

• This story has been updated to clarify the protestors' reasons for demanding Henry's resignation.