FARMINGTON — It’s been 19 years since the suspicious death of a Maryland teenager, and Delaware State Police are calling on the public to assist in the cold case.
On Thursday, DSP said detectives are seeking leads connected to the death of Matthew A. Henson, of Denton, whose charred remains were found in the trunk of a burning car west of Farmington shortly before midnight on Sept. 9, 2002, police said. He was 18 years old at the time.
No leads or information connected to the case have been received for approximately 18 years, DSP spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said.
The manner and cause of Mr. Henson’s death are undetermined and the Medical Examiner Unit considers the case closed.
“In the event more evidence is obtained, the current ME would have to review the case,” Cpl. Fournier said.
While Cpl. Fournier was unable to say whether Mr. Henson’s family reached out to police, he said, generally speaking, that, “Family members will contact the investigators from time to time to see if there are any updates and this may prompt a media release.”
Also, Cpl. Fournier said, “Our detectives wanted to see if this would get some attention to see if someone has information.”
According to reporting at the time, firefighters from Farmington discovered the remains after responding to a soybean field near Gingerbread Road. They extinguished a fire that engulfed the vehicle, and then discovered the remains when opening the trunk. Police described the area as wooded.
Earlier, dispatchers had received a late-night call reporting shots fired. A witness said he could see a fire in the distance, police said.
The charred remains were identified as Mr. Henson a month later, and the state medical examiner had not determined the cause of death at the time. Police initially said they hoped that a DNA test would help confirm the body’s identity.
Mr. Henson’s family reported him missing the same day his body was found in the car, police said.
Detectives found that Mr. Henson worked at an automotive accessories business in Delmar, a DSP news release said, and did auto work with friends in the Caroline County area in Maryland. He also bought, sold and traded automotive stereo and television equipment and installed these accessories in vehicles, DSP said.
Cpl. Fournier said, “DSP Homicide Unit’s definition of a cold case is when the investigating officer either leaves the unit or retires. Until that happens, the case remains with that investigator and is not considered ‘cold.’ Other departments consider a case cold after a set period.”
Sending out media releases, “will often garner information from potential witnesses who may have been too scared to talk to someone at the time of the crime or new evidence appears through investigative means; i.e. DNA, fingerprints, etc.,” Cpl. Fournier said.
DSP asks anyone with information to contact the Homicide Unit by calling 741-2703. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or online at delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.
Information on Delaware cold cases is online at dsp.delaware.gov/homicide-cold-cases. In addition to homicides, cold cases may include missing person cases.
The online site features information on 15 homicide cold cases each in Kent County, 14 in Sussex, and 40 in New Castle County.
Other Kent County cold cases, the year and location of the incident include:
• Jason Mills, 2016, Dover
• Tyler Parton, 2016, Dover
• Douglas M. Kimball, 2015, Felton
• Christopher Gillis, 2014, Dover
• Gregory Keiser Sr., 2013, Hartly
Cold cases in Sussex County include:
• Darrin Gibbs, 2016, Millsboro
• James Green, 2016, Milton