VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A Florida man who prosecutors allege drove 900 miles to Virginia to kill his estranged wife ended up paralyzed from the waist down after his stepdaughter shot him, authorities said.
Henry Frank Herbig IV, 65, of Pace, Florida, is charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding and breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony, Virginia Beach authorities said in a news release. He is being held without bond in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center.
Herbig’s mugshot shows him lying in a hospital bed with a brace around his neck.
Court records from Santa Rosa County, Florida, show that Herbig’s wife, Cathy Herbig, filed for divorce in June. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Cathy Herbig moved to Virginia Beach to live with her 31-year-old daughter.
Virginia court records obtained by the Virginian-Pilot allege Henry Herbig, a retired, decorated U.S. Navy captain and pilot, drove to Virginia and broke into the women’s home the night of Sept. 8. Henry Herbig was armed with a large wrench, the records said.
The newspaper reported that around 9:30 p.m., Herbig’s stepdaughter went outside with her dog and was accosted by her stepfather. Herbig forced his way into the house, where the attack continued as he beat both women with a large wrench.
Neighbors witnessed part of the aftermath.
“My husband heard a scream and then a gunshot,” one of the neighbors, who asked not to be identified, told the Virginian-Pilot. “Then we saw the older woman outside screaming, ‘Help! Help! Help!’”
Police officers responded to the scene and paramedics took Herbig, his estranged wife and his stepdaughter to the hospital for treatment, authorities said. The newspaper reported that Herbig remained hospitalized for a week before being booked into the jail.
Autumn Blackledge, the Florida lawyer representing Cathy Herbig in the couple’s divorce, said both her client and her stepdaughter were seriously injured in the assault.
“She’s on the mend, but her injuries were extensive,” Blackledge said of Cathy Herbig. “It’s tremendously unfortunate.”
WTKR in Norfolk reported that Henry Herbig could not be transported to court for his Sept. 25 bond hearing. He appeared via video conference from his hospital bed in the jail infirmary.
Herbig’s defense lawyer argued he should be released on bond due to his condition, for which the attorney claimed jail medical staff are unable to provide adequate care, WTKR reported.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, the doctor in charge of the jail’s infirmary testified at Herbig’s bond hearing that the facility would have to hire more staff to attend to the inmate’s medical needs. The doctor said Herbig is paralyzed below the waist and has limited use of his arms.
He is unable to feed himself and is at risk for bedsores, the doctor said, according to the newspaper.
Prosecutors argued that, even though Herbig will likely never walk again, he remains a danger and a flight risk. According to the Virginian-Pilot and WTKR, they pointed to his considerable finances, his connection to pilots and his multiple homes, one of which is on the Canadian border.
The details that came out in court today sounded just like a movie script. Prosecutors say Henry Herbig made a list of all the steps he took and planned to take in order to kill his wife. Instead, he ended up getting shot and is now paralyzed. https://t.co/y6jYb5WHCm— Allison Mechanic (@AllisonWTKR) September 25, 2019
The prosecution also detailed evidence obtained in the criminal investigation, including a long to-do list Herbig had in his car pertaining to his alleged plot to murder his wife, the news station said. The list included using multiple cars to make the drive to Virginia and back, bringing gas cans along with him so he wouldn’t have to buy any along the way, using cash instead of credit cards and having multiple cellphones so he could not be traced, WTKR reported.
Investigators said Herbig had in his vehicle a murder kit including garbage bags, duct tape, zip ties and disguises. According to the news station, his weapons included the wrench used in the attack, as well as a wooden baton and a gun.
The judge denied him bail, but left the matter open for discussion at a later date if the defense can find a secure medical facility to house Herbig, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
The newspaper reported that Herbig’s military records show he served in the Navy for 30 years before retiring in 2012. Before marrying Cathy Herbig in 2009, he was married for 25 years to Donna Vance-Herbig.
Vance-Herbig died in September 2008 following a long battle with breast cancer, her obituary read. The couple had settled in Pensacola in 1987 after Henry Herbig was transferred to Naval Air Station Whiting Field near Milton.
Henry Herbig’s stepdaughter will not face charges in the shooting because she acted in self-defense, authorities said. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, declined to talk about the incident with a reporter, the Virginan-Pilot reported.
Herbig faces 20 years to life on the charge of aggravated malicious wounding, according to Virginia law. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the breaking and entering charge.
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