Friends of a 51-year-old mother slain Sept. 6 in her home in an unincorporated area near Livermore are collecting donations to help her two grown daughters raise her young son and “make sure he lives the best life possible.”
The boy’s mother, Kellie J. Henry, was allegedly killed by her boyfriend, 38-year-old Gregory Jonathon Stephens, who was arrested after he called family members and admitted that he had shot her during an argument, sheriff’s deputies said.
He later confessed to police, a court document said.
The couple’s son was staying with a friend at the time, a family friend said.
Prosecutors charged Stephens Sept. 9 with murder with the use of a gun. He made his first court appearance that afternoon and was held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Stephens was scheduled to return to court Sept. 23 to enter a plea to begin the proceedings against him, court records showed.
Deputies responded to Henry’s rural ranch house in the 9200 block of Tesla Road about 2:20 p.m. Stephens’ family members contacted the Sheriff’s Department to report what he had told them, and that he was suicidal, Alameda County sheriff’s Lt. Ray Kelly said in a department release.
The deputies spotted Henry lying inside the front door with a gunshot wound when they arrived. Stephens, believed to still be armed and with access to other guns in the house, was moving in and out of the residence, deputies said.
Sheriff’s Office crisis negotiators, as well as special weapons team members, responded. In addition, drones, robots and police dogs were brought to the scene, deputies said.
Crisis negotiators reached Stephens on the phone. After several conversations during the next few hours, Stephens agreed to surrender about 5:15 p.m.
Stephens walked out with his hands up and was taken into custody. Henry was pronounced dead at the scene. A Sheriff’s Office probable cause report — a document written by detectives to justify his arrest — said Henry was shot numerous times.
“The firearm believed to have been used during the commission of the crime was located during search of the residence,” the report said. “(Stephens) provided an admonished statement to detectives in which he confessed to the murder.”
Deputies said no one else was in the house.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said she watched the commotion. Although she did not know Stephens, she said she saw him about a year earlier, behaving erratically, angrily walking in and out of traffic with his shirt off. She reported that when her dogs barked at him, he leaned over the fence and said, “I’m gonna kill your dogs.”
Henry’s death stunned her friends, many of whom wrote comments on social media in tribute.
“Kelly was really loved,” Noriene Lumpe Butterfield said in an interview. “She’s got this adorable son that she lived for … and her daughters and her granddaughter. She had a wonderful relationship with her ex-husband. That’s how she was — she was just a ray of sunshine. I don’t know anybody that ever said one bad thing about her.”
Butterfield previously worked with Henry at a construction firm, where Henry dispatched trucks and crews to worksites.
Earlier, on the morning she died, Henry sent a text message to Butterfield to wish her a happy birthday. The message said, “Good morning. Happy birthday, beautiful lady. Have a fabulous day.” It closed with X’s for kisses and a heart emoji.
Butterfield said she could not believe that just hours later, her friend would be gone.
“If I had known there was anything going on and there was an issue, I would have called her back,” Butterfield said. “In retrospect, I wish I had. There was nothing that would have thrown red flags up for me.”
In announcing her mother’s death on Facebook, Marissa Krummen called Henry “beautiful and loving.”
“Please be patient, kind and respectful while my family processes this tragedy we are living through,” she wrote.
Alysse Gaudenzi, who is in a relationship with Henry’s former husband, wrote on her Facebook page that Henry accepted her into the family “with an effortless grace.”
“Kellie’s kindness was infectious,” Gaudenzi wrote. “She went out of her way to make sure I felt like I was welcomed, and it meant more to me than anyone could know. It was who she was; it was obvious she cared about people. Kellie had a way of just making you happy and a personality you were drawn to.”
Gaudenzi encouraged friends to donate to a fund established to aid her son. The site – https://gf.me/u/yxf776 — had raised over $36,000 through Sept. 11.
Friend and fundraiser Heather Kelley wrote on the site that Henry’s adult daughters had taken over their mother’s job raising their little brother.
“Please send this family all the love and prayers,” Kelley wrote. “Kellie was the sunshine on a cloudy day and will be missed so much.”