Family of 52-year-old homicide victim speak out

June 12, 2018 11:41 PM

Relatives of a Rochester woman stabbed and left to die at a Gates roadside remembered her as a loving mother and grandmother, but also suffered renewed recollections of a similar tragedy from decades ago. 

On Tuesday, Gates police reported the arrest of Roger Lee Wiggins, 54, on second degree murder charges for the Monday stabbing death of Tracy Henton-Williams.

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“A lot of people are hurt and in pain from this tragedy,” said the victim’s sister Alia Henton-Williams.

Investigators said the crime was an act of domestic violence and Tracy’s relatives described Wiggins as a long-term boyfriend with whom she was in the process of breaking up.

 According to police, Wiggins stabbed Henton-Williams in his Jeep Liberty as the SUV was driving west on Buffalo Road and she tumbled out to the pavement in front of Rick’s Prime Rib Restaurant, bleeding profusely.

“I just can’t get the vision out, how a person could treat a human being like that,” said Rick’s proprietor Phil Cammileri who watched as the victim fell from the vehicle.  “She rolls, probably, about 25, 30 feet I’m guessing. And she said ‘call 911.’ Which I did.” 

Frantic efforts by bystanders to save the woman failed and she was pronounced dead at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Wiggins kept driving and wasn’t stopped until Canadian border police detained him at the Queenston-Lewiston bridge attempting to cross the border into Canada, a crossing that would have complicated the manhunt for him, police said.  

“This could’ve dragged on for weeks, if not months, if he had gotten into Canada and hid up in Canada,” said Greece Police Chief James Vanbrederode.  “Clearly it looks like that was his intent to get out of the country.”

As Wiggins was taken to the Monroe County Jail, Tracy Henton-Williams’ family remembered her fondly as a fun-loving, devoted mother to her two daughters, grandmother to her two grandchildren, and well-liked teacher’s assistant at Rochester’s Flower City School 54.

"One beautiful woman,” said her father Dolphus Henton, “one hell of a woman.”

“She was,” Alia Henton-Williams agreed.  

This loss was a painful case of déjà vu for the victim’s family.  Tracy had been one of five siblings, until her youngest brother Ralik, then 16, was shot and killed in the crossfire of a gang shootout in Rochester in 1992.  

Her death Monday brought the household back into the grimly familiar territory it had left behind.

 “As time passes, You learn to accept things more and deal with them,” Alia Henton-Williams recalled, “and then something like this just brings everything afresh and anew again.”

Alia suggested that her brother’s death galvanized her into a life of community work.  “I am thankful for his life and I’m thankful that, in his death, I found my purpose.”

The death of her sister, she categorized as a very different blow to the family but, in some respects, not-so-different.  “It's old and yet it's new,” she said.  “And you think about some particular aspect of it, like the unfairness of it all." 

Wiggins was confined to the Monroe County Jail with no bail Tuesday night with his next court appearance scheduled for Friday.  The suspect did have a lengthy past criminal record in Florida dating back to the early 1980s which included drug charges, battery with a deadly weapon, grand theft and armed robbery.

“Obviously he’s a deranged, disturbed person,” declared the victim’s sister Alia.

But while investigators called the killing of Tracy Henton-Williams a case of domestic violence, her relatives could recall not signs of violence or abuse, although they also admitted to having no love for Wiggins.  

“It was a rocky relationship,” Dolphus Henton exclaimed, “Don’t go there.”

“It was something that I really couldn't put my finger on,” recalled Alia.  “Our spirits never mixed.  There was just always something about him that didn’t sit well with me.”


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