Details of Disappearance
Brendan was last seen between 9:00 and 9:15 a.m. in the company of his father, Ivan Kurt Henk, when they left Brendan's residence to play together in the yard. A photograph of Henk is posted below this case summary. He is Brendan's mother's ex-boyfriend. A photograph of Brendan's mother, Rebecca Gonzalez, is posted below this case summary. She had custody of Brendan at the time he disappeared.
Later that same day, authorities saw Henk driving on the road and pursued him, wrongly thinking he might be a robbery suspect they were looking for. Henk led them on a high-speed chase that ended when he ran into a guardrail and rolled the vehicle he was driving, a 1997 Hyundai Accent which he had taken from Rebecca without her permission. (The state of Nebraska later billed her to $850 repair the guardrail, since it was her car that caused the damage.) When she was notified of the accident, Rebecca told police her child was missing. Henk, when questioned about his son's disappearance, initially claimed he left Brendan with Rebecca. He was charged with willful reckless driving and obstructing an officer in connection with the chase incident.
Extensive searches failed to locate the child, but his blood was found in the trunk of the wrecked car, on the car seat, and in the garage of his home. Henk remained the primary suspect in the boy's disappearance. He has a criminal record for a myriad of offenses, including some violent ones, and a history of drug abuse and mental instability. On April 29, 2003, after he was sentenced to one year in jail for the charges related to the police chase, he made an announcement in court and confessed to murdering Brendan. He said he did it because he thought the boy was the Antichrist. He claimed to have seen the numbers 666, the number of the devil in Christian folklore, on Brendan's forehead before he died. Henk later made a full confession to the murder and said he had decapitated Brendan with a kitchen knife in Rebecca's garage. He led police to a garbage bin in Bellevue, Nebraska where he said he had disposed of Brendan's body. Brendan's blood was in the bin. Police searched the landfill where the garbage was taken, but without results.
Later that year, in August 2003, Henk was charged with Brendan's murder. Police did numerous futile searches for the the child's body before deciding to charge Henk and continue to look for Brendan's remains in the interval before the trial. Henk attempted suicide while in jail by slashing his wrist, but he was not seriously injured. Just before his trial was due to start in February 2005, he pleaded guilty in order to save himself from a possible death sentence. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Brendan has not been found, and further searches for his remains are unlikely to take place due to prohibitive costs. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.
Left: Brendan's necklace;
Middle: Ivan Henk;
Right: Rebecca Gonzalez