published Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Pastor slaying suspect has history of crime

by Chris Carroll

The Chattanooga man accused of torturing and killing a local pastor has pleaded guilty to 11 crimes in seven years and had a history of schizophrenia, depression and emotional and personality disorders, court and medical records show.

Police say Antonio Henry, 25, and his 16-year-old cousin, Brendan Barnes, beat, stabbed and strangled the Rev. David Strong, pastor at St. Paul AME Church, before hitting him over the head with a vase and cutting his throat.

Henry and Barnes each are charged with one count of felony murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery.

Barnes’ criminal history was not available since authorities are treating him as a juvenile, but Henry has an extensive record.

In 2003, Henry received probation after he was found guilty of domestic assault for pulling the braids out of his girlfriend’s scalp during an argument, records show.

Henry escaped in 2004 from the Silverdale Detention Center, records show.

In 2005, he pleaded guilty to assault for swinging a crowbar at a man’s head, police records show. He received probation for that crime and was forced to take a 12-week anger-management class.

Hamilton County court records also show that Henry belonged to the Vice Lords gang, but his mother isn’t convinced.

“He’s got a ‘VL’ tattoo on his back, but I actually don’t know,” Anita Burgis said Tuesday. “You can tattoo what you want to tattoo on your body, but that don’t mean anything.”

She said her son never met his Atlanta-based father, heard voices as a young child and twice attempted suicide, once trying to set himself on fire.

According to Social Security Administration documents, Henry began collecting Supplemental Security Income in 1998, when he was 13. Records show that those payments stopped in 2005, despite the agency’s recognition of Henry’s depression, mood disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, emotional disorder and personality disorder.

“Even though you have not performed substantial gainful work in the past, your condition does not prevent you from doing some types of substantial gainful work,” states Henry’s 2005 rejection claim from Social Security.

Burgis said her son never got a job because “big crowds could make him snap.”

On Tuesday, Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Tim Carroll said “one of the most brutal” crimes of the year happened after Strong refused to reveal the PIN for his debit card during a routine robbery, but Lt. Kirk Eidson said authorities are investigating “other possible motivating factors.”

“The possibility existed that Rev. Strong was gay,” said Eidson, head of the Chattanooga Police Department’s major crimes division. “We’re exploring that. We are currently investigating as to any type of motivating factor of that nature. ... Even if that would be the case, they planned a robbery, and they still killed him.”

Schedule of final arrangements:

Today: noon, prayer vigil, Warren Chapel AME Church – Chattanooga, Rev. Mays officiating.

Thursday: 6 p.m., musical tribute, St. Paul AME Church - Chattanooga.

Friday: 6 p.m., memorial service, St. Paul AME Church - Chattanooga, Words of Comfort, Bishop McKenzie.

Sunday: 6 p.m., memorial service, Ward Chapel AME Church - Memphis.

Monday: 11 a.m., Ward Chapel AME Church - Dr. C.W. Fugh, eulogist.

As Henry sat in jail on a $350,000 bond, his mother said she “would understand” her son, whom she calls Tony, robbing the preacher. But she said she couldn’t see him murdering the pastor “without a reason.”

Strong was single and lived alone, according to Terence Mayes, a longtime friend of the pastor.

Carroll said Henry had known Strong for four years, but Barnes told police that he had not met Strong before the night he was killed.

Carol Barnes said her 16-year-old son barely saw his father and got expelled from Howard School of Academics and Technology after he pushed a teacher into the wall as he “tried to watch gangs fighting in the hall.”

She said her son suffered from attention deficit hyperactive disorder but was reluctant to take his medicine.

Carol Barnes said her son told her that two other men participated in Strong’s killing, but police say they questioned several people and that Henry and Barnes are the only two suspects.

“My son ain’t no Boy Scout,” Carol Barnes said. “But he got coerced into this [crime] and he was threatened with the same knife that was cutting the pastor.”

Henry’s General Sessions preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18. Officials would not release information on Barnes, but his mother said he is in the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center and that a hearing will determine if he will be tried as an adult.

“I want to apologize to that man’s family; that’s the main thing,” Carol Barnes said. “But in a sense, we’ve lost our kids, too.”

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twilliams said...

Oh have lost nothing....they still have life but they felt they had authority to take a life. Give me a break. Own up to both your failures in these two cold-blooded KILLERS that you failed to raise.

October 13, 2010 at 12:17 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Why did the TFP print this speculation about Rev. Strong? You printed the officer's name who implied another reason, why not follow up with proof instead of just innuendo?

The fact is a kind and caring man was brutally murdered. He valiantly stood up to these punks and did not give into their demands for his pin number. He lost the battle, but stood his ground. This is all that really matters. If it happened to a preacher, it can happen to any one of us.

His facebook page stated he was interested in women. By implying there is another reason, you are diminishing and slandering a true hero of Chattanooga. During Katrina, Rev. Strong and his church took matters into their own hands and solicited donations, they even got Covenant Transportation to donate a trailer to carry clothing, blankets and supplies to the poor and suffering people of Mobile, Alabama and Mississippi. He knew their immediate needs could not wait for FEMA or Red Cross, who displayed hesitancy and ineptness after Katrina. Rev.Strong and the whole community acted and helped those most in need.

Try sticking to the facts and be respectful of the dead, Times Free Press.

October 13, 2010 at 8 a.m.
twilliams said...

I totallly agree with Sandyonsignal. Why slander him to make people have sympathy for a monster like this by implying something like this. It angers me that she sits here and say that she can see him robbing him but can not see him killing him without reason when YOU his mother has already given reason your son is a psychopath. He was trifling not wanting to be a man and get a job and earn his own money rather he felt he would rob Rev. Strong. So because the government felt that this lunatic was fit to work but wouldnt you try to justify his actions. How can you live with yourself. Again lady...YOU brought this sick individual in the world you fostered it and because of your failures his "previous" victims although they lived and Rev. Strong has paid the price of "YOUR" creation of this derranged, heart-less killer.

October 13, 2010 at 11:22 a.m.
Allison12 said...

All issues are relevant in a murder trial. If the men were have sexual contact, you bet it will come out trial. It speaks to possible prior contact with with the accused. So get over it, all issues will be heard, and good work TFP.

October 13, 2010 at 11:49 a.m.
EaTn said...

Some slime-bags make you wish that large spring-loaded rat traps should be a legal form of punishment.

October 13, 2010 at 2:05 p.m.
eeeeeek said...

If sexual contact was what caused them to do what they did... they are going to go insane in prison.

October 13, 2010 at 2:34 p.m.
yazoo1966 said...

Rev. Strong was one of the best people I have ever known. He was funny and loving. He gave away most everything he had to benefit others. The policeman and the Times should apologize for labeling the man possibly gay. It is almost as if being gay might add up to actually deserving the treatment he received by his killers. And the killers are misunderstood? Didn't get government help? I hope they don't get out of this crime, because if they are allowed in the community, they will do the same thing again. If you can't prove it, then you shouldn't print it. You took the time to prove everything you wrote about the killers, but you failed the victim. Try to list all the good things David Strong did for the community. These can be proved.

October 13, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.
rego0004 said...

This is so sad that people often wait until something tragic happens, then began to drag one's name thru the mud. They are spending too much time worry about rumors instead of the facts, which is he was MURDERED!!! and not accidently.

If he was doing something wrong that's between him and our heavenly father. Stay focused people!!!. The only thing that should matter is what was in his heart which he had a heart of gold.

To the mother that's now stating her son was coerced into during this, what the HELL ever!!!. Both of those mothers knew their kids were heading down the wrong path yrs ago, shouldn't have waited this long to speak out. There is a such thing as unruley child that could have been filed @ the juvenile courts. Probably should have thought about that yrs ago.

October 13, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.
concernedvoice said...

I am appalled and dismayed that Lt. Kirk Eidson would take a callous indifference to the suffering of the Strong Family and the many individuals in our community. EVEN if it is found that Reverend Strong's sexual preference was homosexual, it doesn't negate that fact that his contribution to his church as well as this city at large was felt and should not be diminished by throwing out to the media such an inappropriate comment. The timing of that form of ignorance is inexcusable.

ALLOW HIS FAMILY, FRIENDS, LOVED ONES AND THE COMMUNITY to celebrate his life in a positive atmosphere. His memory shouldn't be skewed by this type of negative onslaught.

And to the TFP staff, please remember that though your responsibility is to bring forth the news (good or bad), there are moments of clarity you seem to miss when it comes to reaching for the true story. THINK BEFORE YOU PRINT!!! Spewing out information without any form of proof or as least allowing someone, hell, anyone to refute statements is just irresponsible on your part.

LET us all move forward and come together as a community to mourn the loss of a good community man and seek out ways to dampen this youth violence that plagues our streets!!

October 13, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.
datone said...

I have known Rev. Strong most of my life and I can honestly say most assuredly that indeed he was Gay. That does not negate his ability to preach or pastor. If nothing else, his death should inspire the church to FINALLY stop ignoring the idea of homosexuals in our pulpits. It is time for the church to repeal its don't ask don't tell policy and remember the commandments of christ- Love the lord your God....Love thy neighbor as thyself. Instead of debating what is or wasn't I know one thing for sure- Rev. Strong was one of the nicest ppl I have ever met and he died a brutal and useless death. The question is- what are we (the church) going to do about it to honor his life so that his death was not in vain.

October 13, 2010 at 4:58 p.m.
whatsnottaken said...

Always a label and an excuse (mitigating factor). Worthless to the human race. Kill em like they killed him.

October 13, 2010 at 5:12 p.m.
slynn said...

Once again the Chattanooga Times Free Press has printed some very damaging information about Rev. Strong without any real proof. If this is an avenue the police are following up on, then no comment should have been made unless it was investigated and proven. The family and community are already having to digest this horrible crime without having to now take into consideration an accusation against the pastor. Rev. Strong was a wonderful influence on the community and tried to do all that he could to bring about a change in our area. Let us not forget that this man died at the hands of two individuals that wanted something he had. For one of the mothers to say she could see her child robbing the pastor, but not killing him, what mother would say that? Stealing is stealing and it goes against the 10 Commandments. Is she saying that it was ok to rob him? Does she not see this as a crime? I think that anyone who will steal from you will do other things that are horrible and worse. The paper said the older man had attended anger management class. Who certifies that you are ready to leave the classes? They obviously didn't work for him and to let him still walk among the people of this city is a crime in itself. To say that the government knew of her son's illness and did nothing is a cop-out. I am amazed at the number of children who are able to draw money off the social security under the disability clause of ADD or someother name for not taking responsibility for your child just acting out because he can. I can see where this is going and everyone else should be able to read between the lines of this also. Don't even let them play the crazy card! They committed a brutal crime and should not get off on a technical issue. If they would do this to a pastor who always tried to help others, think what they will do to just anyone on the street. Wake up Chattanooga and don't sit back and let this slide by. This is one time that I think they should follow thru on the term an eye for an eye.

October 13, 2010 at 5:13 p.m.
FM_33 said...

The Chattanooga man accused of torturing and killing a local pastor has pleaded guilty to 11 crimes in seven years and had a history of schizophrenia, depression and emotional and personality disorders.

After reading how Rolando does is posting here on the Free Press can you blame the young man.

October 13, 2010 at 5:18 p.m.
FM_33 said...

The churches of Chattanooga need to come together and stop all this infighting among each other. Then go door to door to EVERY neigborhood in this sin sick city and reach out for the people to be SAVED !

May GOD help us all and let us come together to stop this madness before the Devil takes another victim from the community.

October 13, 2010 at 5:24 p.m.
FM_33 said...

If sexual contact was what caused them to do what they did... they are going to go insane in prison. Username: eeeeeek | On: October 13, 2010 at 2:34 p.m.

Eeeeeek why don't you be there doctor and show them the cure.

Or do you have any !

October 13, 2010 at 5:28 p.m.
FM_33 said...

The Chattanooga man accused of torturing and killing a local pastor has pleaded guilty to 11 crimes in seven years and had a history of schizophrenia, depression and emotional and personality disorders.

After reading how Rolando does is posting here on the Free Press can you blame the young man. Username: FM_33 | On: October 13, 2010 at 5:18 p.m. 0 of 1 people found this comment useful. Suggest removal

Sorry about that one staff it did not come out right and please remove it because that is not what i meant and that was a screw up.

October 13, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.
eeeeeek said...

Sorry FM_33 there is no cure for "Teh Gay". There is a cure for what you have though. In a couple of years, you'll hit something called puberty.

Now go outside and play so the grownups can talk.

October 13, 2010 at 6:04 p.m.
Allison12 said...

To the police blamers: An investigation includes reporting all motives.

October 13, 2010 at 7:19 p.m.
Oz said...

Bail should been at least one million dollars instead of $350,000.

October 13, 2010 at 7:33 p.m.
ceeweed said...

What medications was Antonio taking? He has more diagnosis than a DSM-IV. Why, if he is so insane, has he not learned to do a little reality testing? If he were truly disabled by mental illness, he would have never lost his SSI disability. NEWS FLASH! All criminals have personality disorders! It is not an acceptable defense. And this whole "gay" angle, if proven true, should only serve to enhance his sentence not diminish it. What is Antonio hoping for, some homophobes on the jury? This CPD cop who suggested that the preacher may have have been gay implies that that these two punks may have some other reason for killing the Rev. What a load of crap! Gay does not equal evil. Torturing, strangling, and stabbing a man to death does.

October 13, 2010 at 9:54 p.m.
crobert said...

It had been suspected throughout the church that Rev. strong was gay. The Church takes a dim view on homosexuality. However, it is Church policy that it has to be proven that one is homosexual before any type of action is taken against a person accused of being homosexual. Rev. Strong was a kind hearted fun loving man and will be missed in our district. His final judge is the God that he served.

October 13, 2010 at 11:20 p.m.
acerigger said...

That "gay" would even enter in to a dialogue about murder is just stupid!

October 14, 2010 at 12:03 a.m.
bwg said...

She said her son never met his Atlanta-based father, heard voices as a young child and twice attempted suicide, once trying to set himself on fire.

Too bad he didn't succeed. If he had our pastor would still be here.

October 14, 2010 at 8:54 a.m.
ibshame said...

I have no doubt some court appointed attorney will be looking for some angle to use to get these two less of a sentence than they deserve. The reality is this: Both of these young men know the difference between right and wrong. It doesn't matter what Rev. Strong's sexual preferences might have been, they planned to rob him and then tortured and killed him. That means the death penalty any way you look at it.

October 14, 2010 at 8:57 a.m.
justice said...

I'm very disgusted by the mother's comments, how can you say that "you can see him robbing the pastor but not killing him?" What kind of mother are you? Pastor Strong was a kind, loving man, who was also trying to help your son. He had a family, a church, a community who loved him very much. It does'nt matter what his sexual preference was, what matters is a life was taken away. What is this world coming to? What kind of legacy are we leaving for our children and future generations? Why was this guy on the streets anyway? I'm very angry and appalled that they are trying to say he's crazy! That's not an excuse for killing anyone, its just an easy way out! Not to mention the manner in which they killed him, they OVER-KILLED him! My heart hurts because i will never understand WHY? Rev. Strong would have done anything to help those boys, that was the ultimate betrayal. Please people, let your voices be heard, dont let this unthinkalble crime go un-punished! Let there be justice for Pastor Strong. He will truly be missed!

October 14, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.
raspus said...

(As Henry sat in jail on a $350,000 bond, his mother said she “would understand” her son, whom she calls Tony, robbing the preacher. But she said she couldn’t see him murdering the pastor “without a reason.”) This man’s mother’s comment is troubling to me. Two of the ten commandment are thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not kill. If she has good moral character how can she understand her son robbing Rev. Strong when that too violates God’s law? In the eyes of God he’s on his way to hell even if he only robbed him. I don’t understand her way of thinking. And I don’t understand Henry killing the pastor for any reason. Where is her mind?

October 14, 2010 at 12:45 p.m.
twilliams said...

Raspus, this mother is making excuses for HER failure to raise this monster. Both of these women are to blame for what they produced. Its obvious they did not raise them right now they want to throw every mental diagnosis in the mix to excuse their actions. In actuality if this sick bastard was this sick as a mother you should have gotten help for them or better yet had them committed to an institution. Sounds to me as long as the mother was benefitting from the "crazy" check she made sure he got help to keep the diagnosis to keep the check but once the checks stop comin in she no longer benefitted so it was no importance to her to see he got help and the 16 yr olds mother says he was reluctant to take his question who is the freakin adult? I am really growing tired of the two monsters being played like angelic victims. Please....hundreds of people are hurting at the hands of these two. Psycosis had nothing to do with this they conspired....planned....and carried out this horrible crime.

October 14, 2010 at 1:36 p.m.
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