Allison Henn’s parents feared for years that their daughter’s heroin habit would kill her.
“We would not have been surprised by an overdose,” her mother, Linda, said as she sat at the family’s dinner table Wednesday morning.
“But the violence,” said her father, Norman, his voice trailing off.
Henn, 29, was fatally shot in Northwest Baltimore Monday night, the first of three women who were found killed in the city in a 13-hour span. Police are investigating all three deaths as homicides and have charged one man with the most recent killing.
Women are rarely victims of the more than 300 homicides that the city has recorded in each of the last three years. Since at least 2004, there have never been three women killed in the city in unconnected murders over such a short span.
Of more than 2,500 homicides in Baltimore over the past 10 years, 9 percent of the victims were women. Sixteen women have been killed so far this year, making up 13 percent of the city’s homicide total as of Friday morning.
Police do not believe the three killings are connected, spokesman T.J. Smith said. All three were “targeted” killings, he said.
Kataya Nelson, 29, was found unresponsive in West Baltimore Monday night less than 45 minutes after Henn was discovered.
Police had responded to a report of a shooting in the 100 block of North Fremont Avenue in Poppleton and found Nelson on the next block. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police have not released any motive or suspect information.
A relative said Nelson was a mother and that her funeral was planned, but declined to comment further.
Two red, heart-shaped balloons and a teddy bear were tied to a light pole at a corner near where police found Nelson.
At 11:15 on Tuesday morning, police discovered the body of Jasmine Pierce-Morris, 20, in the bleachers of a high school football field in the 2400 block of Westfield Avenue in Northeast Baltimore. She was discovered in a kneeling position with trauma to her neck, her hands bound with rope and a prom picture of her alleged killer, according to charging documents. She was pronounced dead a short time later.
Police arrested 22 year-old Christopher Rather, of the 6600 block of Knottwood Court, who has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. Rather was taken to Central Booking.
Before Pierce-Morris went to the high school to meet Rather, she’d texted a friend about her eagerness to be done with him, charging documents show.
“Soooo, Chris wanted to talk to me today right. I’m meeting him at this football field. I think this goin be our last conversation,” Pierce-Morris wrote. “He told me he was leaving, might be going to California or Hawaii. Imma find out when he get here but ain’t that good news?!?”
Pierce-Morris graduated from high school in 2016, a member of the first graduating class of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, according to Juda McGannon, who mentored Pierce-Morris for years while volunteering with Sisters Circle.
Pierce-Morris enrolled in Coppin State University but left after a year, McGannon said, and had been working for Amazon in recent months.
Pierce-Morris was shy and quiet in the summer after fifth grade, when McGannon first met her, but she loved to sing and began to blossom as she approached high school.
“It seemed like all of the shyness would fall away when she would sing,” McGannon said. “That’s something she was never afraid to do in front of people.”
Reached at their home Thursday, Kimmie and Tina Morris said they were about to head to a funeral home to make arrangements for their daughter.
“She was definitely an angel,” said Kimmie Morris, her father.
Police found Henn lying in the grass in the 4800 block of Pimlico Road in Central Park Heights at 10:07 p.m. Monday. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Linda and Norman Henn said their daughter was shot once under the eye and found with nothing but a cellphone, which they said was unusual because she was frequently homeless and hauled around bags of clothes and other belongings.
The Henns wiped away tears as they spoke of their daughter’s struggle with drug addiction. The last time either parent saw their daughter alive was late last month, over Memorial Day weekend, when Norman happened to run into her by a soda machine outside of a Wawa convenience store.
She apologized for relapsing, he said, and said she was not ready to enter into treatment and didn’t want to bring her addiction back to her parents’ house.
“She didn’t want to torture us anymore,” Norman Henn said.
Pictures of Allison hang on the walls of the Henns’ home in Parkville, but they’re dated, her father noted. She has been in and out of jails, apartments and sidewalks over the last few years, rarely coming home.
Linda Henn remembered her daughter as a smart, funny girl whom they adopted at birth. She was the Henns’ first child and always protective of her two younger brothers.
By the time she was 10, Allison’s mood swings became apparent, and she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, her parents said. They had trouble getting her to take her medicine from the start, but in high school at St. Ursula and then a public school, she began to self-medicate.
She studied cosmetology briefly after graduating from Loch Raven High in 2006, but dropped out, they said.
Eventually, she became hooked on heroin.
They said they visited and wrote letters to her while she was in jail. They set up treatment plans for when she was released.
But every time she got out, she relapsed, they said.
“As you can see, we love her very much,” Linda said. “We know what she turned into and what her issues were and how she made her money, but we told her we’d never give up on her.”
This will be a difficult weekend for her father. He recalled a conversation he had with Allison last year, when she was serving a 16-month sentence in a Montgomery County jail after pleading guilty to possessing drug paraphernalia.
She said she wanted to join him for the GBMC Father’s Day 5K race, which he has been running every year for 30 years.