How Schlitterbahn’s Verruckt was built in Wyandotte County
A Wyandotte County District Court judge increased Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry’s bond to $1 million on Wednesday after hearing allegations that Henry arranged with a human trafficker to provide a victim for sex in a Merriam hotel room in July.
Henry was remanded to custody of Wyandotte County Sheriff’s deputies shortly after a Wednesday afternoon hearing, one in which lawyers with the Kansas Attorney General’s office argued that Henry was a flight risk and posed a danger to the public.
The hearing came after Henry was charged in Johnson County with felony counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. He is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of buying sex and illegally possessing a prescription drug. He surrendered to Johnson County authorities Monday and posted $100,000 bond in that case.
The Kansas Attorney General moved to revoke Henry’s bond in a Wyandotte County criminal case in which he’s charged with second-degree murder and other felony counts related to the 2016 death of Caleb Schwab on the Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kan.
A grand jury indictment accuses Henry of designing a dangerous slide without qualifications and ignoring warnings about the safety risks it posed.
In the motion to revoke Henry’s bond in the Verruckt case, the Kansas Attorney General recited what Wyandotte County District Court Judge Robert Burns called troubling allegations.
According to the court filing, Merriam police on July 13 were called to a Drury Inn hotel at 9009 Shawnee Mission Parkway after a hotel guest reported a disturbance. That was little more than 24 hours after Henry had appeared in Wyandotte County court for a hearing on the Schlitterbahn case.
Henry answered the door when police knocked on it. Upon seeing police officers, Henry allegedly went to the bathroom and started to empty the contents of several bottles in a sink drain.
A woman identified in court records as K.M. was in the room, identifying herself as Henry’s girlfriend. K.M was slurring her speech and making erratic movements and officers observed bruising around an injection site on her neck, according to court records.
K.M. told police that she had not recently used drugs but admitted to taking methamphetamine in the past.
Officers discovered another woman, identified as K.W., who was pretending to be asleep.
Investigators later learned that Henry allegedly arranged for a human trafficker named Ronnie Hargraves to bring K.W. to Henry’s hotel room for sex, originally in exchange for $400. Henry paid for the sex with $240 cash and offered 10 all-day passes to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark to cover the difference, the bond revocation motion says.
The trafficking victim, K.W., told police she feared for her life and wanted to escape Hargraves, according to court records. She had bruises and a bloody nose; officers took her to a safe location.
Henry denied to officers that he had any part of it.
Hargraves was arrested by officers outside the hotel room. Hargraves told officers that Henry had methamphetamine in a metal tube.
Henry denied to officers that he had illegal drugs in the room and refused to allow officers to search it. But the hotel manager asked police to remove Henry and officers later recovered 61 grams of methamphetamine, 16 pills of Xanax and 18 hypodermic needles.
Police officers interviewed K.W., the trafficking victim, four days later. The woman told police that Henry had instructed her to shoot methamphetamine in his neck upon arriving at the hotel, which she did. They left the hotel and went to the Schlitterbahn water park in KCK, where Henry vented about the criminal charges against him.
Henry also told K.W. that the other woman, K.M., was a “paid sex slave under contract” with Henry, one in which she would receive $50,000 and a $100,000 condo if she kept up her end of the arrangement, according to court documents.
They returned to the hotel, whereupon they came across an angry Hargraves because he did not know where K.W. had been and suspected Henry was attempting to bring her to Texas with him. Hargraves allegedly grabbed K.W.’s neck, slammed her head against the wall and punched her “until she lost control of her bowels,” according to the court filing.
K.W. escaped to the bathroom and locked herself in, at which time Hargraves tried to break open the door. Police arrived shortly thereafter.
The Johnson County District Attorney charged Hargraves on July 14 with battery. Hargraves, a Kansas City, Kan., resident, was released on bond, but later failed to appear at a Sept. 19 court date.
Henry was charged by the Johnson County District Attorney on Oct. 23.
“Serious accusations have been made against Jeff Henry and neither the Henry family nor the Schlitterbahn companies take those allegations lightly,” said Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio in a statement. “To be clear, Jeff Henry has not managed the operations of any Schlitterbahn property, including the Kansas City waterpark, for many years. We at Schlitterbahn recognize and respect that these allegations must be addressed by Jeff Henry and his attorneys.”
The Kansas Attorney General requested a $2 million bond for Henry, that he submit to random drug testing, not use alcohol or illegal drugs and not go to any Schlitterbahn water parks, among the new bond conditions.
Henry’s lawyers argued against increasing what had previously been a $500,000 bond to $2 million.
They said Henry has been in the Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas, receiving treatment. The Menninger Clinic, once based in Topeka, is a well-known hospital for psychiatric treatments.
“He has a whole host of problems,” his attorney, Ron Barosso, told The Star, adding that he was getting treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts.
Carl Cornwell, another of Henry’s attorneys, denied that Henry was looking to distribute any methamphetamine and said his client was “a danger to no one but himself.”
“This is a sick man,” Cornwell told Burns during the hearing. “I can tell you, judge, that this Johnson County case is going to be aggressively gone after.”
Burns ordered Henry to continue seeking treatment at the Menninger Clinic if he posts his new $1 million bond. He acknowledged that Henry has made all his court appearances, but said the Johnson County allegations were troubling.
“It’s quite troubling he was engaged in that type of behavior,” Burns said.