South Puget Sound Community College, along with all of Olympia, is still reeling from the murder of Casey Heath, 32. Heath was stabbed multiple times inside McCoy’s Tavern in downtown Olympia in early December.
Suspect David M. Henkleman is in custody, and has been described as having mental health issues. Henkleman has his bail set at $1 million for second-degree murder.
Heath was a skilled skateboarder who had been sponsored by Northwest Snowboards. He often skated at Yauger Park and was described as a “skate god” by student Sean Lemon, who knew Heath from 2001 to 2004. When Heath picked up a skateboard, everyone would watch him, said Lemon.
Heath was not only watched as a skateboarder, but was always willing to give tips to younger kids in his neighborhood or at skate parks. Lemon said Heath would give him and his friends pointers and taught them a few tricks. Student Rachel Sparhawk was taught how to skateboard by Heath when he was a teen and she a grade-schooler.
Sparhawk described Heath as an incredibly kind person and said Heath was always willing to help her mother with errands and housework, as they were also close.
Many SPSCC students knew Heath well, and described him as a great guy.
Student Russel Layton said he met Heath through friends and played on the same pool team as Heath. Heath was good-hearted and never confrontational or violent, said Layton.
Heath was a talented and creative person who touched many lives, said Lemon.
Heath’s murder is a reflection of how downtown Olympia has become more dangerous in recent years, said Layton. There are more violent characters in certain areas than there used to be and based on the reaction of the community, this incident was very traumatic to Olympia, he said.
Sparhawk agreed that Olympia has become less safe, and said this incident illustrates that. She said she never thought about murder in her hometown before, and a random death of someone as kind and well known as Heath shocks her.
Lemon said Olympia has been getting rough lately, although he said there has always been violence, and that random attacks like this have happened for years.
The Olympia community, including SPSCC, certainly felt, and still feels the loss of Heath.