Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Homeless man's mother seeks answers in beating

William Henderson, at 18. (Courtesy of Barbara Henderson)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Barbara Henderson has not seen her son, William, since he left her Indiana home six years ago.

“He just disappeared,” Henderson said. “He's been homeless for awhile, has a lot of mental issues and substance abuse issues.”

Then, a doctor called last month to tell her he was placed in a medically induced coma after being severely beaten in Downtown Albuquerque.

“Nobody deserves that,” she said. “If you have nothing better to do than pick on somebody who has so many problems.”

Police say Jose Aragon, 15, and Ignacio Avila, 18, viciously attacked 28-year-old Henderson as he slept in the doorway of a coffee shop Aug. 9 – leaving him with brain bleeding, skull fractures and a long and uncertain recovery.

Henderson said her son is only just coming out of the coma now and is “very confused” about what happened; meanwhile, doctors want to transfer him to a neurological rehab in Texas.

“I hope he recovers, and can do the best he can do,” she said. “Get the help he needs – have another chance.”

Aragon and Avila are both charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and Aragon is facing an additional charge of aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm.

Police say the two men were riding around with some friends Downtown when they told the driver to stop near Deep Space Coffee, where they got out of the car and attacked Henderson.

Ignacio Avila, 18 (MDC)

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, officers responded to a Deep Space Coffee at 504 Central SE around 3 a.m. after a passerby reported a man “screaming in pain.”

Police say they found Henderson in the doorway of the coffee house. He had lacerations to his head as well as fractures to his face, head and neck.

At the hospital, doctors told police Henderson also had bleeding in his brain, a “traumatic blood clot” in his brain and would need surgery on his jaw.

Police say they soon tracked down blurry surveillance footage showing two men getting out of a silver SUV and beating Henderson before leaving the scene.

Images of the SUV were released to the public and, before detectives could track down any more leads, police say the SUV's owner Anthony Assed came forward and identified Avila and Aragon as the suspects.

Assed told police he and another friend were driving around when Avila and Aragon asked to be picked up.

Police say Avila and Aragon suggested they “cruise around downtown” and asked Assed to stop the vehicle near Deep Space Coffee and both got out.

Assed told police he didn't know what the two were doing outside the car but when they got back in they told him “that's some gang (expletive)” and they “beat up some dude” before ordering him to “drive off fast.”

Henderson said her son is a very creative, smart person who tried to go to college but couldn't overcome mental health issues that plagued him since a young age.

“It's not like he was ever a bad person. He could never hang onto reality. The best place he could find is Albuquerque,” she said. “You see somebody homeless on the street, you don't know their history. He was struck by a lot of blows.”

Henderson said she doesn't know why he chose New Mexico, as he has no connections here, after he left her home to live with his father in Arizona.

“Things just didn't work out,” she said, calling mental illness a “horrible cycle” and hopes justice is served on her son's attackers.

“I want people to know it's just not right,” Henderson said. “Somebody who has that kind of random anger, needs to called on it. Because I can't even imagine what they would do to people they know.”

As for seeing her son again after all this time, Henderson said she will wait until he is ready.