Baltimore police seek tips in February killing

Death of man who trafficked in murky world of Internet prostitution stumping authorities

March 11, 2010|By Justin Fenton | justin.fenton@baltsun.com

He graduated from a Catholic high school and attended college; she joined the Army. But somewhere along the line, police believe, Shaun Henderson and his girlfriend began crisscrossing the Baltimore region as a fledgling pimp and his prostitute.

On Feb. 4, in the area for an appointment at a Towson hotel, Henderson, 30, was found shot to death in his 2000 Cadillac Escalade parked in North Baltimore's Greenspring neighborhood. Baltimore police say at least two women were seen running from the vehicle. Although they initially suspected the girlfriend, police said, evidence has all but ruled out her involvement.

Detectives are asking for the public's help in developing new leads.

"It's completely wide open," said the primary detective, Robert Dohony.

The case has taken detectives into the world of Internet prostitution, which is pervasive on escort and classified Web sites such as Craigslist.org, one of the places where Henderson's girlfriend advertised.

In contrast to street prostitutes, who can provide a wealth of information to police, prostitutes on the Internet operate more discreetly. It's a realm that city vice cops haven't infiltrated in the way some county agencies have.

"I can't go to the corner of Monument and Gay and get information on this case. They hang out here," said Sgt. Richard Purtell, tapping a computer screen, "and then they get a hotel room."

Police say the girlfriend acknowledged her involvement in prostitution, with her phone number and pictures appear on dozens of Web sites as "Persia Diamond." Advertising herself as a "busty, caramel beauty," she says she is "available 24/7."

Detectives said another woman described how Henderson had reached out to her through an adult chat line, offering to bring her into the fold. They also learned that he made recruiting trips to Baltimore's adult entertainment hub, The Block. He made statements about having a stable of girls whom he would take to Washington, but police suspect that was boasting.

"He's not that type of guy," Dohony said. "He's not really got a criminal record of anything. He graduated from a Catholic high school and did a couple years at Morgan State. But he was involved in [prostitution], he was involved with chat lines, and liked to do a lot of hacking [operating illegal taxis] to get extra money in his pocket."

That array of activities has made it difficult to pin down who might have wanted him dead.

The girlfriend told police that she and Henderson, who is originally from Riverdale, lived out of hotels and on the night of his death were at the Welcome Inn at Joppa Road and Loch Raven Boulevard.

During the night, Henderson slipped out unnoticed. His body was found about eight miles away in the 2400 block of Loyola Southway, in North Baltimore's Greenspring neighborhood.

Medicine bottles and a computer in the car helped police track down the girlfriend, who had written a poem about his death:

"So sudden, so quick, without a warning. He left that night, next thing it's morning.

"Then noon, then one, then two o'clock came, for a second I thought I was no longer his game.

"I was, but he was no longer my daddy. His friend called and told me he was found dead in his Caddy."

One possible angle has come to light in recent weeks. Police are exploring reports that two women might have been involved in sex-related robberies in North Baltimore.

Anyone with information, including those wishing to remain anonymous, is asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.



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