Video: Hensley's brother speaks

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/22/2004 11:07:11 AM ET 2004-09-22T15:07:11

Jack Hensley’s family was supposed to celebrate his 49th birthday Wednesday. Instead, they found out he has become the second of two American hostages beheaded in Iraq.

An al-Qaida-linked group claimed to have killed Hensley on Tuesday, a day after the group said they beheaded fellow hostage Eugene Armstrong. Armstrong was shown being executed on a video; no video immediately emerged of Hensley.

But Cobb County Police spokesman Robert Quigley said Wednesday that the family had received confirmation that the headless body discovered in western Baghdad and handed over to U.S. officials in Iraq was that of Hensley.

Outside Hensley’s suburban home, a trickle of family friends came to give condolences to the construction worker’s wife and 13-year-old daughter. One neighbor delivered food wrapped in tin foil.

Hensley’s brother, Ty, said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show that the family had anticipated the worst.

Today show
Jack Hensley with his wife Pati and daughter Sara are seen in this undated photograph.
Hensley’s wife, Pati, was “extraordinarily devastated,” he said.

“She is a widow now. ... What has fallen on her is an extraordinary amount of weight,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Pati Hensley clung to hope that her husband was alive.

“We are still hopeful at this time that Jack Hensley is still with us,” she said in a statement read by family spokesman Jake Haley. Pati Hensley also appeared on TV shows to plead for her husband’s return.

Helping Iraq
Several other friends stood with Haley outside the Hensley home and answered questions. Ken Cole, a 19-year friend of the victim, was asked if there was anger because none was being heard.

“There is, but it’s not productive,” Cole said. “These people who did this have their own agenda. Jack’s agenda was to help the people of Iraq.”

Jack Hensley was abducted Thursday in Baghdad along with Armstrong and a British man, Kenneth Bigley. Their 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.

The Hensley family received a call from Andrew Card, President Bush’s chief of staff. “They said they were doing everything they can,” Haley said. “It was nice to hear from them.”

Ty Hensely told his hometown newspaper in Rock Hill, S.C., that Jack Hensley was an ideal older brother who used to drive him to school and coach his tee-ball league.

“He is a very happy person with a big smile,” Ty Hensley said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. (The family has established a fund for Sara Hensley's daughter. Information can be found at http://www.jackhensley.org/)

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