COLUMBIA, SC — The ringleader of a vicious 2011 mob assault in Five Points remains in solitary confinement as he awaits punishment for using a cell phone in prison to post online messages about his co-defendants and to display gang signs.
Tyheem Henry, 21, who is incarcerated at Lee Correctional Institute, faces two charges: Creating and/or assisting with a social networking site and unauthorized inmate organizational activity or participation in a security threat group, said Clark Newsome, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Corrections.
A disciplinary hearing has not been scheduled. In the meantime, details of what prison officials say he did are becoming more clear, and some of his online posts taunt others involved in the Five Points assault.
Henry was one of eight teens accused in the June 2011 beating of then-18-year-old Carter Strange as he ran through Five Points to get home to meet his parents curfew. Henry, who was 19 at the time of the crime and the oldest of the assailants, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and arrived the S.C. Department of Corrections in April 2012.
His Facebook posts under a pseudonym began in September 2012, according to the Lowcountry website Charleston Thug Life. The website published Henrys Facebook postings on Sept. 8, leading the S.C. corrections department to conduct a shakedown at the Lee County prison.
Henrys messages were written in slang and riddled with profanities. In one message, he called out others involved in the Five Points beating for what he saw as a betrayal because they cooperated with police in exchange for lesser sentences.
... NO MATTA HOW MUCH TIME DEM PEOPLE TELL ME DEY GNE KNOCK OFF I AINT NEVA GND RAT ON MY ENEMY ESPIECILY NOT MY SUPPOSED TO G FAMILY, one message said.
In that same message, Henry boasted that he is a real member of the Folk Nation gang and would never snitch on another gang member. G Family is a reference to Folk Nation.
He suggested his followers ask around Broad River Road because people there would know. That post also includes the admission that he is a mommas boy and I love you momy written in capitalized letters.
Henry posted pictures of himself, including after he had his sisters name tattooed on his neck and another in which he appeared shirtless while flashing gang signs with his fingers. He also made multiple references to smoking marijuana in prison.
Henry posted under an alias Tieem Davis and often called himself Tie-G.
Henrys disciplinary hearing will be held at the prison, and the public will not be allowed to attend. Inmate disciplinary hearings do not have the same rules that apply in courtrooms, Newsome said.
If the disciplinary panel finds Henry guilty of the charges, he could receive more prison time, lose credits that could have been applied toward an early release or lose privileges such as visitation rights, phone calls and canteen visits, Newsome said.
Possessing contraband in prison is a crime in South Carolina. Henry has not been charged with that. But the disciplinary panel could ask a solicitor to prosecute Henry under that statute, Newsome said.
Since the Facebook postings were made public, the corrections departments inspector general plans to monitor the Charleston Thug Life website to help keep tabs on others participating in illegal activity in prison, Newsome said. Thug Life is a blog that monitors criminal behavior, primarily in the Lowcountry.
Prison wardens wage a constant battle over keeping cell phones out of inmates hands, Newsome said. The most common way prisoners obtain cell phones is by having a friend throw one over a prison fence, he said.
After their son was attacked in 2011, John and Vicki Strange became vigilant advocates for justice for their son. They keep tabs on their sons attackers and know when they are released from jail or finish their probations. Four of the eight were charged with committing the actual assault.
As much as they track the attackers, the Strange family had no idea Henry was posting on Facebook until Charleston Thug Life reported it.
The thing that bothered me the most wasnt just the fact he was doing it but the number of people who were doing it and getting away with it, John Strange said.
John Strange said the revelation confirmed something he and his wife have suspected all along their sons attackers were in a gang.
Throughout the investigation, arrest and trials, no one in authority said the attack was gang related. The closest anyone came to admitting the attackers were in a gang came during a juvenile court hearing, when a judge ordered a teen to stay away from The Smash Team, which billed itself as a group that organized parties featuring local rappers.
Strange said he admired the work Charleston Thug Life put into uncovering Henrys posts.
It is time-consuming, Strange said.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.