September 22, 2004
MARIETTA, Ga. - The family of hostage Jack Hensley has received confirmation that the headless body handed over to U.S. officials in Iraq is his, a family spokesman said Wednesday.
The family was told the news Wednesday, the day Hensley would have turned 49, Cobb County police spokesman Robert Quigley said outside Hensley's Marietta home.
The body was handed over to American authorities in Baghdad, the U.S. Embassy said.
In an interview earlier in the day on NBC's "Today," Hensley's brother, Ty Hensley, said Hensley's wife, Pati, was "extraordinarily devastated."
"She is a widow now," Ty Hensley said. "She is a mother of a 13-year-old daughter. She's also a caregiver of two mothers. What has fallen upon her is an extraordinary amount of weight."
The discovery of the body came a day after a posting on an Islamic Web site had claimed that an al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq had slain a second American, presumably Hensley. It came a day after the group said it beheaded fellow U.S. hostage Eugene Armstrong.
The White House offered condolences to the Hensley family Wednesday.
"Their strength during a difficult time is amazing. The terrorists want to shake our will, but they will not," said Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman. "It shows the true barbaric nature of the enemies we face in Iraq, that they would take innocent civilian life. They will be defeated, they will not prevail."
Hensley, Armstrong and an Englishman, Kenneth Bigley, were kidnapped last Thursday from a house that the three civil engineers, working for the construction firm Gulf Services Co., shared in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood.
Ty Hensley declined to answer directly when asked if he felt anger toward his brother's captors but said he felt that despite their demands, the hostage takers always intended to kill the hostages. They never called an embassy to communicate their demands, he said.
"The terrorists wanted to kill my brother and hurt my family," Ty Hensley said.
"He was my T-ball coach," he told CNN. "He put my toys together at Christmas." He said friends had created a fund to help pay for Hensley's daughter to go to college.
Outside Hensley's suburban home, a trickle of friends came Tuesday to give condolences to his wife and daughter. One neighbor delivered food wrapped in foil.
"Jack's agenda was to help the people of Iraq," said Ken Cole, a 19-year friend.
On Tuesday, Hensley's wife clung to hope that her husband was alive.
"We are still hopeful at this time that Jack Hensley is still with us," Pati Hensley said in a statement read by a family spokesman.
The captors, a militant Islamic group called Tawhid and Jihad, demanded the release of female prisoners from American jails in Iraq and set a 24-hour deadline.