Known as the “Lover’s Lane Murders”, the brutal killing of 22-year-old Cheryl Henry and her date, 21-year-old Andy Atkinson in August 1990 shocked the Houston, Texas area and is considered one of Houston’s most brutal slayings. Their murders remain unsolved today.
About the Case
On August 22, 1990, Cheryl Henry went on a double date with her sister, Shane to Bayou Mama’s club. The two couples parted ways around 11:00 p.m. Cheryl and her date, Andy Atkinson, headed up to Lover’s Lane in West Houston; a common spot for young couples who wanted some privacy. The area at the time was undeveloped and became the future site of an industrial park.
When her family failed to hear from her, and Cheryl did not show up for work the next day, they reported her missing.
On August 23, 1990, a Houston patrol officer found Andy’s white Honda Civic in an isolated cul-de-sac off Enclave Parkway near where Sysco Corporation sits today, but neither Cheryl or Andy were in the vehicle. Traces of fresh blood were found inside the car.
The officer ran the plates and discovered the car belonged to a missing person. Police brought in a tracking dog to search the area for any sign of Cheryl and Andy.
Clues found in the car – keys in ignition, front car seats reclined, a cassette tape in the deck of the car stereo – led police to believe that Cheryl and Andy went to Lover’s Lane to make out but were interrupted.
A golf club and three golf balls were found pointing to the direction of Cheryl’s body, about 200 yards away from her car.
Cheryl was lying face down with her hands tied behind her back with hemp rope. Her clothes had been cut from her body, and her underwear was bunched up in a pocket of her jeans. The killer attempted to hide the body with boards from a rotting cedar fence.
The killer also raped Cheryl before slashing her throat, which bore three ragged slash marks. A $20 bill lay near her body.
The next day, Andy’s body was found tied to a tree. He was sitting up with his back to the tree. His throat had been cut so severely he was nearly decapitated.
Money found on Andy led detectives to believe the motive was not robbery, but sexual assault and murder.
DNA taken from the crime scene was tested against the DNA of several suspects; however, none matched. But then…
Break in case?
Two months before the Lover’s Lane murders, an unknown attacker raped a 30-year-old exotic dancer at 7826 Terra Cotta in Houston. Her attacker also robbed her. He was waiting for her in her home when she returned and asked, “Where’s Randy?” Randy was her
Years later, DNA from that case was tested against the DNA found on Cheryl, and it was a match. The rape victim was able to help authorities construct a composite sketch of her attacker. She also told authorities her attacker was wearing what could have been a security guard uniform at the time of the assault.
The victim worked at a topless bar called GiGi’s in 1990. Cheryl worked at a similar club called Rick’s Cabaret, and Andy occasionally worked the door at another club, Dreams Street, which was managed by his father. He also worked at Gold’s Gym. It is believed the suspect frequented or worked at local strip clubs and that is how he met the women.
In 2008, authorities received an anonymous note that may have come from the killer. However, it turned out to be another dead end.
This August marks the 27th anniversary of the murders, and the rapist/killer has never been caught. Cheryl and Andy knew each other for only two weeks before they were murdered. Cheryl was a student at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Andy had just graduated college in North Carolina before moving closer to his father’s family in Houston.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
While DNA from the rape victim was linked to Cheryl’s killer, it’s almost useless when they cannot identify who the DNA belongs to. So, does this mean that the killer has never been arrested for any crimes since 1990? And did the rapist/killer ever rape or kill before and after these crime, but was never caught?
There were traces of fresh blood found in the car but it is unclear whose blood it was or exactly where in the car it was found. However, this does seem to show that the killer approached the car, somehow hurt Cheryl or Andy, and then forced them out of the car.
Did Cheryl and Andy know their killer? Did he follow them after leaving Bayou Mama’s? Or was he lying in wait at Lover’s Lane hoping any couple would show up? We know the police believed the killer may have frequented or worked at nightclubs, so I think it’s possible they did know their killer. Maybe he worked at Dreams Street or Rick’s Cabaret or was a regular customer.
I also think it’s possible the killer did not intend to actually murder either victim, but things got out of control. Maybe Cheryl fought hard for her life. It would help explain why he didn’t kill Andy first. I mean, if it was all about Cheryl, he could have killed Andy first to get him out of the way.
Or the killer took great pleasure in having Andy watch.
It appeared there was more rage aimed at Andy because he was nearly decapitated. This could be because of the killer’s jealousy towards Andy dating Cheryl.
Why did the killer leave clues to Cheryl’s body but not Andy’s? He wanted her found, I get that, but there were no clues leading to Andy’s body and he wasn’t found until the day after Cheryl’s body was found. So why was it important to the killer that Cheryl was found first? Or did it even matter?
He definitely knew the rape victim because he asked where her
husband boyfriend was and said his name, plus he was waiting for her in her home. It’s strange that she did not recognize him. Although he was wearing a fishnet stalking over his face, she could make out his features. She must not have recognized his voice either. Apparently, he was quite the chit-chatterer, saying vulgar things to her during the rape. I guess it’s possible he could have found out about the husband through other means.
What about the murder weapon? As far as I can tell, police never found it, but I know police or medical examiner could have figured out the type of knife used in the killings. I couldn’t find anything on that either. Was the same knife used on both victims?
At one time, police believed there was more than one killer involved because how does one person subdue two people and kill each of them a few yards away from the other?
Only DNA from one person was found in Cheryl so I think it’s more likely that there was only one person. The attack in Terra Cotta involved only one man – Cheryl and Andy’s killer.
Possible related cases
Two years after the Lover’s Lane murders, on August 4, 1992, 23-year-old Tara Suzette Breckenridge disappeared around 1:00 a.m. after leaving The Men’s Club in Houston where she worked as a waitress. The Men’s Club, if it is still in the same location, was only a short distance from Bayou Mama’s. What piqued my interest here is that she was last seen talking with the security guard at the club. The guy in the rape case had on a uniform cops believe was that of a security guard. Tara has never been found nor has there ever been an arrest for her abduction and likely murder.
Other young women disappeared from Harris County in the early 90s never to be found. Many of them were in their early 20s with blond or brown hair, about the same height and weight, and vanished in the early hours of the morning. I realize the Houston area is large and these could be unrelated, but at the same time, it’s possible some of them are related.