Victim's mom: 'I'm overwhelmed and in shock'

Victim's mom: 'I'm overwhelmed and in shock'

Toni Cassano said she’s sure God played a hand in finding Michael Henslick, a man accused of the brutal slaying of her only daughter, Holly, in 2009.

That includes guiding investigators who’ve tirelessly worked to find him since.

“I’m overwhelmed and in shock,” Cassano said Wednesday of the news of Henslick’s arrest, which she received about 12:30 a.m. when investigators she’s had on speed dial for years came to her Douglas County home.

“The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office came over and told me that they caught him, and he confessed, and there is a DNA match, and he had a $10 million bond. And I just couldn’t believe it.”

Delivering the news in person were Sgts. Dave Sherrick and Chris Darr and investigator Dwayne Roelfs, three of the main players on the investigation over the years.

Lt. Curt Apperson, who also played a major role, is vacationing out of state, but expressed relief.

“I feel happy and overjoyed. Whether it’s work or life, if you put effort into it, things come to an end in a good way,” he said.

Two other investigators with a lot invested in the case — Ed Ogle and Jody Ferry — have since retired.

“I don’t have a word for it,” Cassano said of the outcome. “I thank God. I believe that God has a lot to do with this. He has prepared me in many different ways to be ready for last night’s message. I need to let everybody know I can’t stop thanking them from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support they have shown me over the last nine years.”

“This was never a cold case. These guys have worked it every day.”

Cassano said a dear friend of her daughter’s died a couple of months ago.

“Maybe he went to heaven and talked to her and let her know how much we needed the answers,” she said.

Also getting the news shortly after Cassano was her granddaughter, whom she is raising. Now 10, Cassano said she is “doing well.”

“She just knew that somebody bad did something to her mommy, and we were trying to find that person. When Dave and Chris told her we had him in jail, she had a really big smile on her face, gave them a big hug, and went back to sleep. She’s had a lot of questions about why bad things happen to good people,” Cassano said.

Cassano said she was stunned to learn that the suspect and his parents lived near her own parents in the same mobile home park.

“I’ve been driving by his house for the last nine years,” she said. “It’s been a shock.”

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