Awaiting trial in March, Shauntay Henderson remembers her community-activist grandmother and dreams of making babies.

Shauntay Speaks 

Awaiting trial in March, Shauntay Henderson remembers her community-activist grandmother and dreams of making babies.

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She wasn't going to do anything to the kids. She says she told them to stay in school.

Henderson basks in the warmth of the drab visiting room. Though it's 40 degrees outside, she complains that air conditioning blows on the prisoners in their modules. Warming up in the shower is no use; the water's cold. She stuffs the air vents with toilet paper to clog them, though guards warn her that they'll write her up for the offense. Written reprimands lead to revoked privileges, but Henderson has few to lose.

She's locked in a cellblock where misbehaving inmates are kept in solitary confinement. Guards tell her that it's for her own protection, though she can't tell whether this does her much good. "I pass people in the hallway," she says. "If someone wanted to do something to me, they could."

Minimal physical activity and three greasy meals a day have put some weight on Henderson, who estimates that she's gained 15 pounds. "I think it's all in my thighs and my booty, though," she says.

Henderson's attorney, Peters, won't let her answer questions about her case because he doesn't want to jeopardize his defense at her upcoming trial.

Nonetheless, she ticks off the rumors she says aren't true.

She says she never left the state while on the run, the whole basis of the federal charge that landed her on the Most Wanted list. "I never even seen Iowa," she says. "I have a cousin in college there. I felt like they were putting him in danger by saying I might be there."

She obviously didn't shave her head. "One of my friends called me and told me, 'They got you on the news bald-headed.'" She says she told her friend, "Quit playin'."

She says she never created MySpace pages to taunt authorities. "I'm like, What is MySpace? I really didn't know." Though Henderson claims ignorance about the Web site, a MySpace page called “12th Street” contains links to half a dozen young men with pictures of her or references to her on their own pages. Someone has been updating a MySpace profile labeled "Lady Binladen." Henderson's photo appears on the page, and one of Lady Binladen's MySpace "friends" has posted a song on his profile that includes a rap by someone who sounds like Henderson.

She says she's not a rapper. "I mean, people sit outside, and when they have nothing to do, they just rap," she says. "But I ain't never been no rapper type."

She's not a lesbian. "People do say that about me, but no. I never let it bother me. But I could never do that — I love men too much. And I never really even got along with women."

She says she feels bad about the television footage, aired repeatedly, of her being transported from police headquarters to the detention center, when she put on a cocky show for the cameras. She says she smiled because she didn't want to look mean. She couldn't move her hands because they were chained to her waist, so all she could do was wave them weakly. "They made it look like I was laughing and all that, but I was just trying to say, 'I'm innocent.' I came around the corner, and it was like, whoa, 20 people standing there. And on the news, they'd been running really ugly mug shots all the time. I didn't want to give the camera a mean look."

She says she didn't realize that the police associated her with gang activity. "I don't understand how they got me on gang file," she says, referring to the way in which police monitor known gang members. "A person would know if they were in gang file. Anytime you're pulled over and your information comes up on the police computer, they'll start asking you stuff like, 'You still gang-bangin'?' I've never even talked to a gang unit."

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