Dorothy Lewis, pictured with her daughters Jasmine (left) and Jamilya
In 1993, Dorothy Lewis was a 34-year-old single mother living in Eustis, Florida with her two daughters, Jamilya and Jasmine. She was widowed after her husband had passed away due to issues related to his health.
Active at her local church, Dorothy had been invited to a picnic that her friends and acquaintances were hosting in celebration of Super Bowl XXVII. She had been asked to bring a dessert; Dorothy wanted to make a strawberry pretzel salad but needed the ingredients.
On January 30, the night prior to the planned picnic, Dorothy and her daughters went to the Winn-Dixie located at the Grove Square Shopping Center in Lake County. Dorothy had been busy, so they arrived at the store shortly before 10 p.m., much later than she had originally planned.
Carjacking and abduction
Grove Square Shopping Center, where the Lewis family had gone to buy groceries
After she had placed 3-year-old Jasmine in her car seat, Dorothy walked around the vehicle towards the driver’s side door when she was approached by 14-year-old Alfonza Smalls, who lifted up his shirt to show a handgun tucked in the waistband of his pants. Then he turned towards another teenager and shouted: “Hey man, this is the one!” Before the mother could react, 18-year-old Richard Henyard took the opportunity to walk forward, telling her that they wanted her car.
Dorothy immediately offered up her purse. Smalls then instructed her to get in the car because she was going to come with them. Panicking, she agreed and got in the backseat with her two children. Henyard took the car keys and acted as the driver while Smalls sat on the passenger side. As they began to leave the parking lot, 7-year-old Jamilya asked what was going on, then both girls began to cry; Henyard told Dorothy to “shut those kids up” before he got angry.
Dorothy knew she had to act fast. She kept a calm demeanor and tried to direct them towards the nearest ATM, thinking that they also just wanted money. While doing so, she saw an opportunity to unlock one of the side doors. When the car stopped at a red light, Dorothy whispered for her daughters to run as soon as she opened the back door. Then, realizing that all three of them might not move fast enough, she told them to wait. Abandoning the escape plan, Dorothy then asked their captors if her children “really had to [witness] all of this.”
She offered herself as a hostage if they would just pull over and let the kids out. Henyard and Smalls refused, proving that they were, in fact, going to use the girls as leverage to get Dorothy to comply. After asking again, Smalls said, “No, we can’t do that.”
As they began to drive further away from populated areas, Dorothy Lewis started to pray out loud. “Jesus, help me,” she begged.
In an emotionless tone, Henyard told her: “Lady, this ain’t Jesus. This is Satan.”
Henyard and Smalls drove the family to Hicks Ditch Road
After driving around for a good bit, Smalls told Henyard to pull on to Hicks Ditch Rd, a relatively “quiet” area where they could wager what to do next. By now, Dorothy had managed to keep Jamilya and Jasmine calm. As Henyard and Smalls talked amongst each other, Dorothy realized she only had two options: stay and fight or run and get help. The latter choice meant leaving her babies alone with the two carjackers and she didn’t want to risk their lives any further.
Henyard told her to get out of the car. Jasmine started crying again and Smalls told the toddler to shut up. Holding on to Jamilya and Jasmine’s hands, Dorothy Lewis asked: “If I do what you say, you’ll leave my girls alone, right?” Henyard nodded, so she stepped out, despite the pleas of her children.
She was then forced against the trunk and violently raped by Henyard. Dorothy closed her eyes after realizing that her daughters had a full view of what was happening. They began to scream and call out for her. All the while she could hear Smalls screaming back. When Henyard was finished, Smalls got out of the car and asked if it was his turn. Then he raped Dorothy, placing his weapon on the car’s trunk, just slightly out of her reach. The captors took turns sexually assaulting Dorothy for nearly an hour, while Jamilya and Jasmine’s screams eventually turned into incoherent sobs.
When the assault was finished, Henyard had gone to the driver’s door for something and Smalls was adjusting his pants. Dorothy then lunged for the gun, sensing that he was too preoccupied. But she was instantly overpowered and ordered to sit on the ground. Henyard came back towards the trunk and instructed her to do what Smalls said. When she hesitated, Dorothy was called a derogatory name as Henyard took the gun from his accomplice and shot her in the knee, causing her to fall.
Dorothy Lewis points to where Henyard shot her in the head
The girls were still calling out for their mother as Henyard fired three more shots to Dorothy’s neck, mouth, and head, with the latter .22 caliber bullet striking her between the eyes and shattering as it connected with her skull.
Henyard and Smalls dumped Dorothy’s unconscious body off to the side of the road where she couldn’t be seen. They then took off with Jamilya and Jasmine still in the backseat.
Several hours later, Dorothy woke up, and her first thought was that it had all been a terrible nightmare. Then the pain and panic set in as she realized she was in an unknown area all by herself. After calling out for her daughters, Dorothy saw that they were gone, along with the kidnappers. It took her almost three hours to stumble towards the closest house; any time she saw headlights she would duck towards the trees. When help was finally called, the extent of Dorothy’s wounds led to her being airlifted for emergency surgery.
Early the next morning, Dorothy Lewis woke up to find her sister, Margaret, at her bedside.
“Is this a dream?” she asked. “Am I dead?”
Margaret shook her head, squeezing Dorothy’s hand as she began to cry.
Then Dorothy asked if they had found the men who abducted Jamilya and Jasmine. Her sister informed her that, no, the men hadn’t been found, but the police had discovered her daughters’ bodies just a few hours earlier.
The double-murder of the Lewis sisters
Jamilya and Jasmine Lewis
Thinking they had killed Dorothy, Richard Henyard and Alfonza Smalls drove the girls to another deserted location a few miles back towards the direction of the Winn-Dixie.
According to court transcripts, Smalls stated that the older child (Jamilya) was asking where her mommy was, while the youngest continued to cry. The teens didn’t respond and just kept driving, where Henyard eventually parked the car and took the two small children out.
It is unknown if either child struggled or tried to resist Henyard as he picked them up, but Smalls told investigators that they were both crying at that point.
Placing both sisters on the ground, Henyard backed up and fired two shots. Jamilya was killed by a single gunshot wound to the top of her head while a bullet entered Jasmine’s skull, just slightly above her left eye. Forensics later showed that the 3-year-old still had her eyes open when she was murdered.
Smalls stood by the entire time, but not once did he intervene or suggest that they let the kids live.
Upon further investigation, it was believed that Richard Henyard was less than four feet away from the girls when he murdered them. Henyard then picked up Jamilya, while Smalls grabbed Jasmine; they dumped the bodies a few feet away, hoping they’d be concealed by the foliage.
The girls were found several hours later.
Arrest and sentencing
Richard Henyard raped Dorothy Lewis and murdered her two kids in Eustis, Florida
On January 31, when he saw the news report that Dorothy Lewis was still alive, Henyard went to the investigators and told them that Smalls had done it. It was a blatantly pathetic attempt to collect the $1,000 information reward that had been put out. Several holes were quickly poked in his story, then detectives noticed the small red dots on Henyard’s socks and shoes.
“How do you know that’s not ketchup?” he rebuffed. “I didn’t hurt that woman or her kids.”
After hounding him for hours, Henyard confessed to the crime and a warrant was put out for the arrest of Alfonza Smalls. He was later found hiding at a female relative’s house.
On August 19, 1994, Richard Henyard was sentenced to death after the jury deliberated for three hours. The biggest factor for their decision was his lack of mercy during the whole ordeal, especially when he had made the remark about Satan towards Dorothy’s prayer.
Being only fourteen at the time of the crime, Alfonza Smalls was spared from the death penalty and was instead sentenced to life in prison without parole. (His mother later acknowledged Smalls’ participation in the act but reportedly stated that such a punishment was “too cruel,” because he had been “a really good kid.”)
Evidence of clear premeditation
Dorothy Lewis and her family were, unfortunately, “chosen at random”
Several factors indicated that the horrific act of violence brought against the Lewis family had been heavily premeditated.
While neither Henyard nor Smalls personally knew Dorothy Lewis, they saw her as “the perfect opportunity.” A witness eventually came forward and told authorities that she had seen both teenagers loitering around the Winn-Dixie for several hours, indicating that they were screening potential victims and most likely checking for lax security.
Smalls claims that he “didn’t really know” Henyard and had only met him earlier that day through a mutual friend. A female acquaintance stated that Henyard came to her house that morning and was showing off a gun he had stolen (the same weapon he’d later use on the Lewis family). Henyard told her that he needed a car because there was a nightclub in Orlando that he really wanted to go to, then he was going to visit his father in Pahokee. Not only that, he elaborated that he was gonna ‘jack’ someone for their car if he couldn’t get a ride. She allegedly redirected him to Smalls’ residence, claiming that he knew someone who could probably take him on the trip.
It’s unknown how things unfolded, but Smalls was too young to drive and none of his relatives or friends were “eager” to help Henyard out. After talking for a while, Henyard reportedly told him that he could tag along on the journey if he helped him carjack someone. Smalls said that Henyard gave him the gun and said something along the lines of, “They’ll hand it over faster if you use this.”
They chose Winn-Dixie because it was the closest and busiest store, according to authorities.
Despite being labeled an accomplice, several of Smalls’ own actions proved that he was just as sadistic as Henyard. “If anything,” one investigator told the press, “he helped plan it, he didn’t just tag along. He took control. After all, [Smalls] was the one who told the victim to get in the car. He told [Henyard] where to go so they could attack Mrs. Lewis.”
Several people protest Henyard’s execution in Raiford, Florida
Due to Dorothy Lewis’s religious beliefs, she did not support the death penalty and was absent from viewing Henyard’s execution. Though she chose forgiveness, she once mentioned: “I’m still very upset after all these years, but killing him won’t bring my babies back.”
On September 23, 2008, Richard Henyard consumed his final meal, which consisted of two fried chicken breasts, a turkey sausage, fried rice, chocolate chip cookies, and a can of Coke.
When the time came, Henyard stated that he had no last words or apologies. After receiving the lethal injection, it took his body almost two hours to “stop fighting,” angering many that he had a more peaceful death than Jamilya and Jasmine.
During his fourteen years on death row, Henyard only had one visitor.
Case updates and legal arguments
Alfonza Smalls, now in his early-forties, argues that he should be released
In December 2019, Alfonza Smalls and his legal team tried to appeal for a new sentence. Based on a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juveniles should not automatically receive life sentences, the defense tried to persuade the judge, arguing that Smalls “wasn’t even fifteen” when he participated in the crime. Then they claimed that Smalls only took part because he was influenced by Henyard. They acknowledged certain facts, such as Smalls being the first one to threaten Mrs. Lewis with the gun. However, because he was 14-year-old when the crime took place, he simply “did not have the full mental capacity” to understand that what he was doing was wrong.
The prosecution made several counterpoints as to why Smalls should remain in prison:
He agreed to help Henyard, even when the 18-year-old admitted to him beforehand that they were gonna shoot whoever they carjacked
He knew the area and directed Henyard on where they could go to assault Dorothy; he did the same when it came to dumping the bodies of the Lewis girls
Not once did he even attempt to sway or stop Henyard during the whole ordeal; he later told investigators that he wasn’t scared of the older teen, despite barely knowing him
Didn’t care that small, innocent children were involved and showed them no mercy, as well as their mother
He purposely engaged in Dorothy’s violent rape, not caring if her daughters witnessed it
Swore at, threatened, and taunted the Lewis family during various moments
Stood by as Henyard executed Jamilya and Jasmine, then proceeded to help him “toss their bodies as if they were trash”
Went to a family member’s house the following day and resumed normal activities as if he’d done nothing wrong (i.e. no regrets or guilty conscience)
Furthermore, they argued that if Smalls really had “no idea” that he’d done a bad thing, at such a young age, then why did he purposely hide from the police after Henyard gave them his name? Surely, they reiterated to the judge, that warrants Smalls knowing he had participated in something heinous, illegal, and unforgiving–because an innocent or guilt-ridden person wouldn’t run.
Dorothy Lewis refused to testify in court regarding the matter, but later told the press that her views towards Smalls “hadn’t changed at all.” She was in favor of him continuing the life sentence.
When speaking in his own defense, Smalls said:
“I know it was a cruel and unusual act. I know I burdened the family a lot … I can’t bring that back. It can’t be redone. I have been rehabilitated and the only way I can prove it is to be released from prison.”
Mark Hill addresses his disbelief towards Alfonza Smalls
In May 2020, Circuit Judge Mark Hill ruled that he did not believe that Alfonza Smalls could ever be rehabilitated, and even went as far as to say that Smalls “only cares about making himself out to be the victim.”
“The defendant has failed to provide or demonstrate any measurable ability to be a productive citizen,” Hill noted in his order, referring to a host of disciplinary reports and warnings. “In fact, he has failed to even be a productive inmate. He would pose a severe risk to society and that such risk outweighs any potential for mitigation of his sentence.”
Before ordering Smalls to continue his life sentence without parole, Hill publicly shamed him for not apologizing to Dorothy Lewis, her family, or the community.
February 2011: Dorothy poses with her son (left), step-grandson, and husband
Dorothy Lewis faced a long road to recovery. Though she made it through the emergency surgery, she dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder and is now blind in her right eye. Because of the damage to her face and mouth, she temporarily lost her sense of taste and smell.
Two years after the shooting, Dorothy met Hugh Brockington II as she was attempting to heal from the past by devoting herself to her faith. Having dealt with his own trauma, he offered to support her in any way that he could.
In 1997, Dorothy gave birth to their son, Joshua. When he was old enough to understand, she told him: “In Heaven, you have two sisters.”
Rather than look back on the deaths of Jamilya and Jasmine, Dorothy instead chooses to celebrate their birthdays as a way to honor them.
As of 2020, she is the co-pastor of the New Directions Family Worship Center in Ocala, Florida.
Sources: Wikipedia, Orlando Sentinel, I Survived…, Daily Commercial, Herald Tribune, Clark Prosecutor: Richard Henyard