David Henneberry is the most beloved boat owner in America. For it was his boat -- a 20-footer resting in his driveway, under a tarp, waiting for the harbor to thaw enough for sailing season to begin -- that led to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old accused of bombing the Boston marathon.
Henneberry had spent his Friday like the rest of his Watertown community: cooped up in his house with his wife, on a "shelter in place" order from Governor Deval Patrick while authorities tried to track Dzhokhar. The younger of the two suspects had evaded capture after a firefight with police in Watertown the night before -- his older brother had been killed -- and the community was understandably shaken up. It's not often that explosions and SWAT teams can be found in a sleepy Boston suburb.
So once the ban was lifted by Patrick around 6 p.m. -- with Dzhokhar still missing -- Henneberry and his wife stepped into their backyard to get some fresh air. David had a smoke and took the dog for a walk around the yard while his wife relaxed in a chair in the sun. It was a beautiful day in Watertown yesterday, and a shame that it had to be spent inside. But the wind picked up, and the tarp that covered the boat flapped in the wind. This wasn't normal. Henneberry approached the boat and noticed the cord tying it down was cut. Using a stepladder, he looked into the boat and noticed a pool of blood. Without saying anything, he retreated to call the police. The rest, as they say, is history. It'll make for a heckuva book some day.
That's the story, according to Henneberry's stepson, Robert Duffy, the family's spokesperson so far. He's told that story to The Today Show, to CNN's Piers Morgan, and just about every reporter on the scene in Massachusetts Friday night and Saturday morning. His stepparent's address, 67 Franklin Street, was where it all went down. The authorities showed up within minutes of Henneberry's 911 call, and the older couple were whisked into a neighbor's house to safety. "He didn't try to be a hero. He didn't yell," Duffy told Today. "His mind instantly did the right thing."
Duffy was watching this all unfold from his own house, completely unaware that his parents were so close to the action until a friend called him and told them the helicopters were focusing on Franklin Street. He looked at the TV again, put it together and got in his car. The phone at the house had been cut so he had no idea they were safe. "It was absolutely horrifying for approximately 40 minutes," Duffy told Morgan.
We don't know much about Henneberry beyond the details Duffy, and his neighbor George Pizzuto, have provided. We know he's a fiercely proud boat owner who, once the media attention has died down, has a boat that's not exactly fit for sail right now. It was in the middle of last night's fire fight. Which is to say, it's got some holes that need filling. "I heard they put a couple rounds through his boat," Duffy told The New York Daily News. "He’s not going to like that." Boat owners tend to spend most of their time and pennies in the spring prepping for a summer full of sun and wind on the open air. "That boat's his baby. He takes care of it like you wouldn't believe. And they told him it's all shot up," Pizzuto told ABC affiliate WHAM-13. "He's going to be heartbroken."
Hopefully, after the important things shake out, Henneberry will be compensated for his boat's repair. We highly doubt the Boston community won't be thanking him for the months to come.
Correction: This post originally identified Duffy as both Henneberry's stepson and a son-in-law. He is, in fact, a stepson. We regret the error.