Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2011 – Jacqueline Hensler

The Proctor District is a fairly prosperous area of Tacoma. I spent a couple of years living in an apartment just off of North 32nd and Proctor. The neighborhood is full of little shops and big houses. The Metropolitan Market just off of 26th and Proctor is the most high end grocery store in the city. About a block down is a restored classic movie theater called The Blue Mouse. And, I spent many an evening having a few drinks at Knapps and then stumbling home. It was a great place to live.

Wednesday afternoon, police stopped by a house on North 30th Street near Proctor. They’d received reports the 55-year-old woman who lived there had been missing from work for a few days and had not returned phone calls. Inside the house, police found the bodies of Jacqueline Hensler and her 18-year-old son, Ryan Simms. Jacqueline was stabbed multiple times. Ryan was found with a plastic bag over his head. After going over evidence at the scene, it was determined that Ryan stabbed his mother to death and then took his own life by asphyxiating himself.

At this time the motive for the murder is unknown. Jacqueline was a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital and by all accounts well liked. Ryan had recently returned from attending college in England. Police have not released a motive at this time. If more details become available about the motive or the circumstances, I will update this post with that information.

Jacqueline’s murder and her son’s suicide is a sobering reminder that domestic violence is a reality regardless of the neighborhood you live in. It’s difficult to comprehend this sort of crime. Even if more details are revealed, I doubt that it will make too much sense. Somebody once said that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. This is true. The same can often be said of homicide.

This is the worst of all possible outcomes for this family and my thoughts go out to their loved ones.

Comments by those who knew the deceased are welcome.

-Jack Cameron

12 responses to “Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2011 – Jacqueline Hensler

  1. Alison Whiteman

    Although we do not know the circumstances yet, the young man had spent the last year studying law at Cambridge University in England. People with a propensity towards mental illnesses often snap in their late teens or early twenties. It is not uncommon to see young adults at psychiatric hospitals in their early twenties with schizophrenia. Although we do not know the details at this time, it may have been related to a mental illness in addition to domestic violence.

    • I am very happy to read here that some one is finally beginning to scratch the surface of what I believe is the true story. I have known Ryan since 6th grade and we became very close for a time during high school. He told me about what little family he had left and he was not a particularly happy person. He was, in fact, very intelligent, well-mannered, and fun to be around, however he had a dark side. He was seemingly unstable in the sense that he became extremely upset quite easily. I knew that his parents, or at least his father had mental illness and committed suicide after spending everything they had trying to cure their sick daughter and losing her anyway. His mother was uneasy about me spending time with Ryan and as a result I only met her a couple times, but Ryan spoke highly of her and I know he loved her very very much. I believe that Ryan was only trying to deliver his family out of the monotony of life and the pain of their past that still held such a stronghold in their lives. It is an understatement to say that I am saddened by what has happened here. I wish that someone could have got to Ryan with help before this occured. We are holding a memorial service for Ryan in Wrights Park on Sunday. Anyone is welcome to come starting at 1pm.

      • Dear Anonymous, thank you very much for taking the time to tell us some facts that led to this horrific tragedy. I truly appreciate your work here. You did an excellent job of sharing the truth in love. I am a neighbor who did not know either of the decedents and I have been deeply by disturbed by this tragedy. I, too, am sorry that Ryan did not get the help he so desperately needed. And by the way, I think you are wise to remain anonymous as do I.

      • Jeannie Kirchner

        I am a cousin of Jackie’s. My Dad and her Mom were brother and sister. I just found out last week about Jackie’s tragic death and the death of her son too. And then to read about her husband’s suicide and the death of her daughter was shocking. I haven’t been in contact with Jackie in over 20 years but she was still my family. I have so many unanswered questions. I’m getting bits and pieces off the computer but desire to know more than I’ve found. Could you please tell me when her husband and daughter died? Also, what did her daughter die of and how old was she?Thank you for your help and please give me any more information you might have on the family. Such a tragedy! Jeannie Kirchner

    • Raymond Bevilacqua Steinmetz

      Jacqueline M. Hensler was my birth sister. We were both adopted into different families when we were tiny. I was shocked to learn of her death. We never had the opportunity to meet each other after our adoptions. Do you have any more information about her or her son, Ryan Simms, that you can share with me? I would really appreciate it. I can provide you with more details to verify who I am.

  2. As their neighbor, I am deeply saddened by this loss. Ryan was a polite mature man and had a lot going for him, being at University of Canterbury in England, not Cambridge. They were all each other had and had a great relationship. This is what makes this so sad. If anything, I know that they never fought, nothing bad ever came out of that house. She loved gardening, her schnauzers, her home, and her son most of all. Domestic violence was never even heard of between them. I would just like to make that clear. Rest in peace Jackie.

  3. I worked with her for several years and even though we were not personal friends, I am shocked and saddend by what’s happend. It seemed that her life was filled with tragedy and I hope she is finally at peace.

  4. I find it very sad that people with so much information. have to write, and remain, anonymous. This is truly a sad enough story, and if you were a good friend and neighbor be proud of that fact and sign your name to your statement and your feelings. Those’s who hide behind the word “anonymous” are sometimes hard to believe. May they both rest in peace and be reunited with the one’s they loved who left first.

  5. very very sorry to hear about this tragedy.

  6. I had been looking for mycousin for years and i was so saddened by this news. i had no idea she had such a traumatic life i only met her once but i feel if i could have found her we couuld have beengood friends she was such a fun person rest in peace jackie u are finally at home now and u can reunite with Uncle Sammie who i knew u adored and he as well you and Aunt Pearl were eveything to daddy

  7. I just heard about what happened at work yesterday. I still am in shock that such a thing could have happened. I worked with Jackie in the ER at St Joe’s and really adored her. I was aware of her daughters death and the lose of her husband. Jackie kept that a secret for along time about her husbands death. She had told us that he was killed in a auto accident in Oregon. Why not the truth? Jackie may you rest in peace along with Ryan your daughter and your hubby…Susan

  8. Is there any more information? When and why did her daughter die? When did her husband die? If mother and son had such a good relationship, is anyone looking at the possibility of a double muder? There has to be additional information out there.

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