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Henderson believed the police would shoot her if given the opportunity.
"Your mind just comes up with so many things," she says. "I kept thinking, How can I call them and tell them that I want to surrender when they'll just find a reason to shoot me? From day one, they was telling my family they'd open fire if they see me first. So I'm thinking the whole time that if they find me, they'll find a reason to shoot and they'll get away with it. I see how it happens on the news."
During the months when Henderson was a fugitive, police tailed the cars of her family members and showed up to question them at all hours of the night, says Michelle Henderson, one of her aunts.
"The police told us that if they saw Shauntay and one hair on her head moved, they'd shoot her," she says.
Police labeled Henderson's family uncooperative, but Michelle says that when she and other family members told police they didn't know where Henderson was hiding, they were telling the truth. Because of all the police disruptions, Michelle moved from Kansas City, Missouri, to a house in Grandview.
Henderson's other aunt, Betty, still lives on Van Brunt Boulevard, in a house with two plaster fawns on the front lawn. That's where Henderson's grandmother Doretta lives now.
Doretta now suffers from Alzheimer's disease. A hired nurse visits her in the daytime. The family has tried to shield her from news regarding her notorious granddaughter.
"We don't let her know. If she [Doretta] was in her right mind, she wouldn't have let this go on," Michelle says, referring to the portrayal of Doretta's granddaughter by police and the media.
She used to be real hard on us about school," Henderson says of her mother, who died of cancer when Shauntay was 10. "A teacher couldn't even call the house about me or I'd be on punishment. All she really wanted was for us to finish school and go to college." Her mother was religious, too — Catholic, she thinks.
Henderson was born on October 19, 1982. Her parents, both schoolteachers, met in college in Jefferson City. When they later divorced, Henderson moved with her mother to St. Louis, where they lived until 1993 — the year Henderson's mother died and the girl moved back to Kansas City to live in Charlie Parker Square with Doretta.
Alvin Brooks remembers Doretta as an energetic activist who did her community organizing out of an office at 12th Street and Michigan. Brooks says he joined her for marches and demonstrations. "She's been a good strategist and a very intelligent woman," Brooks says.
Steve Baston, a pastor at the New Visions Baptist Church at 4334 Troost, knew Doretta in the '60s and '70s. He and Doretta were partners in neighborhood-beautification projects; he describes her as "an advocate for justice" who was involved in "a lot of positive activities."
Later, he would see the teenage Henderson on the street with her friends. "When she passed me by with the group of women she was with, they were very cordial young women, very respectful young women," he says.
"I seen old pictures of her from when she had a big Afro," Henderson says of Doretta. "Mainly I would overhear people thanking her for something she did for them, telling her she was a good woman. I know she helped raise a lot of kids, a lot of grandkids."