'Overwhelmed and in shock': Mother of victim reacts to news of Michael Henslick's arrest

Toni Cassano said she's sure God played a hand in finding Michael Henslick, a man accused of the brutal slaying of her only daughter, Holly, in 2009. That includes guiding the investigators who have tirelessly worked to find him for nine years.

"I'm overwhelmed and in shock," Cassano said Wednesday morning of the news of Henslick's arrest, which she had received about 12:30 a.m. when investigators she's had on speed dial for years came to her Douglas County home.

"The Champaign County sheriff's office came over and told me that they caught him and he confessed and there is a DNA match and he had a $10 million bond. And I just couldn't believe it," she said.

Delivering the news in person were Sgts. Dave Sherrick and Chris Darr and Investigator Dwayne Roelfs, three of the main players on the murder investigation over the years.

Lt. Curt Apperson, who also played a major role, is vacationing out of state, but expressed relief.

"I feel happy and overjoyed. Whether it's work or life, if you put effort into it, things come to an end in a good way," said Apperson.

Two other investigators with a lot invested in the case — Ed Ogle and Jody Ferry — have since retired.

"I don't have a word for it," Cassano said of the outcome. "I thank God. I believe that God has a lot to do with this. He has prepared me in many different ways to be ready for last night's message. I need to let everybody know I can't stop thanking them from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support they have shown me over the last nine years."

Also getting the news shortly after Cassano was her granddaughter, whom she is raising. Now 10, Cassano said she is "doing well."

"She just knew that somebody bad did something to her mommy and we were trying to find that person. When Dave and Chris told her we had him in jail, she had a really big smile on her face, gave them a big hug and went back to sleep. She's had a lot of questions about why bad things happen to good people," Cassano said.

Cassano said she had never heard of Henslick but a niece of her knows him and her son thought he might know who he is.

"The hardest thing to wrap my mind around is that he stayed. He never talked. He never bragged. I was told he showed no remorse when they caught him," she said.

Cassano said she feels relief that a girlfriend of Henslick who has apparently been on the receiving end of his anger has survived.

"They (investigators) felt that for the first couple years, he would lay low but eventually go back to his old ways. I'm thankful she's still alive and that he didn't do the same thing to her that he did to Holly."

Cassano said she's was also stunned to learn that he and his parents lived closely to her own parents in the same mobile home park.

"I've been driving by his house for the last nine years. It's been a shock."


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