MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Brooklyn Park man has been charged with second-degree murder, after police say he beat his wife to death with a baseball bat and attempted to set her on fire to hide the crime.

Henry Hickman, 54, is in custody after the alleged incident on Feb. 26. Police say Hickman showed up at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Minneapolis, saying that he thought he killed his wife, Cynthia.

“This is another case of just tragic and inexplicable terror,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

Police were dispatched to Hickman’s home where they saw heavy smoke coming from upstairs. Two young children were found in the basement area and told officers that their mother’s room was upstairs and that was the last place they saw her.

Fire crews arrived and put out the fire. A woman’s body was found in the upstairs bedroom, charred from the fire and with blood on her head. The fire crew said she was found underneath a mattress that was on fire.

“She had been in a very abusive relationship for a long time, in which he was in control,” said Freeman, “and he was in control on this night.”

The two children were interviewed and told officers they woke to the sounds of their mother screaming. One of the children said they saw his father coming out of his mother’s room, with a baseball bat in his hand. The father told the child that everything was OK.

The child said he again heard screaming and a series of loud thumps. When he went back out of his room the second time, he said he saw his father go into the kitchen, light something on fire using the stove and throw it into his mother’s bedroom.

He said his father told him to get his other sibling and go into the basement and stay there. The child said they could smell smoke filling the house but he was too afraid to run out of the house or call for help.

“Who leaves your offspring in a house that’s burning, and you set on fire?” said Freeman.  “It’s preposterous.”

Friends and family of the victim said she was scared for her safety and wanted a divorce from Hickman, but feared he would kill her. She applied for an order for protection on Feb. 7, after reporting that Hickman had raped her.

In that request, she wrote, “I fear for my safety because since I asked for divorce his behavior has escalated. I would at this time like the court to help me.”

On Feb. 15, she was granted an order for protection, which stated that Hickman was to have no contact with the victim, either direct or indirect and that he was not to go within three blocks of her residence or place of employment.

An autopsy for the woman on Feb. 27 revealed her cause of death as blunt force trauma, a homicide, and not as the result of the fire. She was said to have suffered broken ribs, lacerations to her spleen, liver, lung, a right eye fracture, fracture to the front of her skull and at least seven large lacerations on her scalp.

The State Fire Marshal conducted an investigation and found that the fire was intentionally set. Officers also recovered an aluminum bat with blood on it from the outside of the home.

The Hickmans were living in the house together, Henry in the basement, and Cynthia upstairs. The children are 5 and 8 years old.  They are now with their grandmother.

Comments (40)
  1. red says:

    psycho- someone beat him to a pulp

    1. Richard Paulus says:

      She obtained a court order….WOW… so what, how many times have we heard stories like this? Court orders are a joke ….BACK em up would be a good idea..

    2. Victim Du Jour says:

      Court systems don’t have the power to stop women who like abusive men, it’s a personal choice.

      Judges are not allowed to strip rights away from people without due process of the law.

      1. BB says:

        What it takes a brain surgeon to figure out that this man is battering his wife and that just maybe the courts should put him away for a very long time. Property laws have more serious consequences than beating your wife, hmmmmm, seems a little out of line, don’t you think!!!

      2. Victim Du Jour says:

        No reason to figure out women who are attracted to abusive men.

        Just like that Police Officer who was murdered for trying to help a woman who help lift a restraining order on her loser boyfriend in the past.

        It wasn’t out of the blue.

      3. LoveItOrLeaveIt says:

        There isn’t such a thing as a woman who likes abusive men! They are too scared to leave, and when they finally get the courage, this is often what happens to them. No one “likes” abuse. But many live in fear of an abuser.

      4. Victim Du Jour says:

        I’ve known a few women who like men that beat them, and even wait for them to get out of prison and lift restraining orders.

        It must be an alpha-male cave-woman thing.

  2. Andrew says:

    Wow. People in this world are dispicible. Why do people even want to have children and bring them into this world.

    Whatever this clown gets as far as sentencing won’t be enough.

    1. BB says:

      I say the best payback this guy will get is to become someones special someone in Prison.

  3. Andrew says:

    Why does WCCO have such absurd photos to go with the articles? A man beats his wife to death with a baseball bat, so you have a stock photo of a bunch of bats? Talk about insensitive.

    1. flanders says:

      Kind of what I was thinking. Is there really even need for a picture?

      I know MN does not have the death penalty but this a-hole deserves it.

    2. Walter T. Falcom says:

      They can’t even get their insensitivity right: They don’t even show the proper stock photo. The article clearly states the murder weapon is a ALUMIINUM bat!

  4. its only fair says:


  5. justice says:

    See that’s not fair !! In minnesota that slime ball will only get life in prison.. minnesota should have the deat Sentence for dirt ball’s like him.. alot good that order of protection did

  6. Lacy says:

    I pray for those poor children! Not only did they lose their mother, but they will be haunted probably forever. I pray they have other family to give them what their mother now cannot…

    1. RachelClaire says:

      Lacy, I’m with you. OMG. Those poor kids. May peace prevail and love reign.

  7. Cache says:

    The bleeding heart justice system in this silly state will let him slide into a luxury cell for 20 years and let the SOB out after 10 for good behavior…morons! Hang him…literally!

  8. pandoramn says:

    What I want to know is – how the hell is this 2nd degree? He went to the house, knowing there was an order of protection against him. He told the children to stay in the basement – then he went up and intentionally killed his poor wife! That’s premeditation – 1st degree murder! What’s the matter with these prosecutors? And I agree with some of the other posters here. We need to reinstate the death penalty and throw out injection or gas – let’s build a scaffold and have a good old-fashioned hanging! These brutes will think twice if they have to consider the prospect of a noose around their own necks!

    1. SoSad says:

      Agreed…but honestly i was thinking firing squad!! Each executioner only uses .22 caliber bullets, no shots to the head.

      My prayers to those poor children!!

    2. ed says:

      In Minnesota the prosecutor can only charge second degree murder. Only a grand jury can indict someone of first degree murder. The prosecutor will convene a grand jury soon for the indictment of first degree murder, and the charge will be amended to first degree. For now, they can hold him on second degree.

      1. pat says:

        thank heaven, he needs the toughest charge available.

  9. Babbie says:

    I don’t think he deserves the death penalty. Lets chain him up and make him work for the rest of his life. Make him clean our sewers and never see sunshine ever again!

    Force labor I say! All the money goes to the family and he lives a life of misery.

  10. Disgusted says:

    I hope he will be charged with the attempted murder of his children as well. Sending them to the basement would not make them safe from fire.

  11. Mark says:

    Why did he go to VA with the confession? Is he going to plead insanity? Gulf War Syndrome or PTSD??

    Also, can we please make our family courts fair and let BOTH father and mother share the custody of their kids? As is, women have too much power to take the kids out of their father’s life by divorcing. I don’t know the details of this case but based on the details in this article it is clear that this guy was a psycho with priors, but in many cases the unfairness does lead to more extreme measures and tragedy, lose-lose for everyone involved.

  12. Andrew says:

    He should get the baseball bat treatment… Mr. Mauer and Morneau are probably too nice to do so, but the state should hire them to return the favor on this creep!

  13. Shuda J Ustchocter says:

    sounds like a waste of a perfectly good mattress! Hope it wasn’t from Ron Trizinski! He might use this story in a commercial.

  14. Shavondra Hicks says:

    Resolution Conflict skills are non existent with “these peoples”.

  15. Shavondra Jenkins says:

    Resolution Conflict skills are non existent with “these peoples”.

  16. DTP says:

    How did a domestic violence issue turn into a race issue. Despite what Allan believes, there are more domestic murders committed by whiite men and white women, ie. Scott Peterson and Michael Peterson. You people need to watch more TruTv, 48 HR Investigation, Snapped and A&E. But to the true topic. Unfortunately domestic violence is not limited to a particular race of people and neither is mental illness. I am saddened that MY COUSIN had to die in this manner, but let’s not take the focus off of the true issue which is not race. Let’s focus on creating safe havens for people in this situation so that it doesn’t keep destroying families.

    1. captainobvious says:

      well perhaps not living in the same house would be a start

      1. LoveItOrLeaveIt says:

        She had an Order for Protection. He came back and “lived” in the basement inspite of her having the Order. She feared him too much to call the police on him again. How do you deal with someone who refuses to do exactly what hHE wants to do, when HE wants to do it? Especially when HE is bigger than you are?

    2. Andrew says:

      I’m with you on the idiocy of the racists on these comments, but if you think “reality” is TruTV and A&E, you are in trouble.

      1. pat says:

        I thought they were white, but it doesn’t matter this is a horrible crime, how could you beat someone to death in the first place let alone someone you professed to love, the mother of your children?? He has no love in him, he left his children to die as well. No matter his judgement on this earth, imperfect for sure, he will meet the true judge of us all soon enough.

  17. captainobvious says:

    in more important news, someone cut me off today.

  18. zee the reporter says:

    This man is an animal~ he will be an animal in jail ~he will not see the light of day god bless! zee reports!

  19. Dee says:

    What is obvious is that a beautiful intelligent fun loving woman’s life was taken too soon. A life that was not his to take. Domestic abuse is not about race. This is not an issue about black versus white. This is not what Cynthia deserved, she was looking forward to life and She will be greatly miss by all those who loved her.
    The fact is, we should be fighting for the countless women whose life have been taken at the hands of men who so called love them and changing the system that are suppose to protect them. and help them find a safe way out; so we do not have to hear about anymore of these stories

    Think before you write comments about a human being. She could easily have been your sister, daughter, mother, friend or cousin that someone is writing about.

    1. cheryl says:

      Dee, I agree with your post 100% ~

      1. LoveItOrLeaveIt says:

        Yes, there is a need for more shelters from domestic abuse. More shelters could save lives and save children from the trauma of hearing one of their parents kill the other one. Domestic abuse exists in all economic, social, religious and education backgrounds, and in all races, to both female AND male. It also happens in gay and lesbian relationships/marriages. More shelters are definitely needed.

  20. C says:

    I will be keeping her and her children in my thought and prayers. This is a very brutal crime and it most definitely shocked the people in the neighborhood and the family very much. I remember going to various children’s sporting events and seeing Henry coaching the kids and he seemed to have a passion and care for them. You never know what goes on in somebody’s personal life and this is just another tragic case of a relationship gone bad. I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail and never gets the chance to hurt anybody again.

  21. MLG says:

    I have known Henry for over twenty years he was always abusive to his mates stomping one of them in her face and knocking out her teeth. He leaves a string of abusive women in his wake, to bad he wasn’t stopped years ago before this tragedy. For the record, the victim I’m speaking of is African American! He should be charged with first degree murder. My prayers are with her family

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