Monster or Martyr: Wyoming Responds to Casper Man That Shot The Man Who Molested His Granddaughter
Editors Note: This article is the sole work of the author and it does not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of K2 Radio News or of its parent company, Townsquare Media. The thoughts expressed are solely those of the writer of this piece.
They called him 'Mr. Lin' and he called them 'babies.'
For years, Olinza Headd kept watch over his 'babies' at the Wyoming Behavioral Institute. In a chaotic environment, Headd was consistently the voice of reason. Employees that worked with him said that they never saw him lose his cool. When his adolescent patients, or even when other staff, would get overwhelmed, or angry, or frustrated, there was always Mr. Lin - with a cool head, a kind word, a deep breath.
"He's a genuinely wholesome man" said Julie Bushnell, a former coworker of Mr. Lin. "How deeply he cares about people is not common nowadays. He's so quick to help anyone in any way he can, and I truly wish there were more people in the world like him. His profound words of wisdom gave me a lot of light through very rough times in my life."
Because, according to those who know him, that's what Mr. Lin does. He projects light. A self proclaimed man of God, Mr. Lin believes in the power of prayer, the power of positivity...and the power of forgiveness.
But some things, to some people, just can't be forgiven.
On January 17, 2021 after a church service had concluded, Mr. Lin stood up in the middle of his congregation. As a deacon of his church, who would occasionally give the Sunday message, people were trained to listen, really listen, when Mr. Lin talked. The congregation grew silent, awaiting what their friend had to say.
And that was when he announced that he had shot and killed a man.
Read More: Affidavit Details Events in Alleged Casper Murder
The affidavit of probable cause stated that police were called to the 4700 block of Tranquility Way on January 13, 2021. When they arrived, they found Eugene Hogan III on the floor of the residence, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
He was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m.
Headd was charged with second-degree murder.
When news of his arrest came out, those who knew him couldn't believe it.
"I thought it had to be a mistake," one former coworker stated. "There's no way the Lin that I knew could be capable of that. There must be more to the story."
And there was.
The reason that Mr. Lin had shot and killed Hogan was because Hogan had, allegedly, molested Lin's granddaughter.
"None of us know what we would do if we received the same information Olinza did," Mr. Lin's attorney, Marty Scott said at his court hearing. "None of us know what we would do if we found out someone was molesting our daughter or granddaughter."
Read More: Casper Man Sentenced For Manslaughter
The affidavit states that when Mr. Lin found out what Hogan had allegedly done to his granddaughter, to one of his babies, he took a handgun from his nightstand, walked to Hogan's apartment, and confronted him with the gun in his hand.
Mr. Lin said that Hogan "nonchalantly" admitted to touching his granddaughter, but denied having sex with her.
"He tells me he just touched her, as if that's a consolation to me," Mr. Lin said at his hearing. "So yes, your honor, I shot him. I didn't ask for this situation ... until I heard out of his mouth that he touched my granddaughter. I did lose control. I hate that I had to be the one to end that man's life. But somebody else would have if he kept touching people's children."
That's a heavy burden to bear. But then, Mr. Lin is used to bearing other peoples' burdens, according to his coworkers.
"Lin is one of those 'one of a kind' people that you meet in your life," said Felicia Lecky, another former coworker. "He is the kind of person you look up to; as a father, a grandfather, a mentor, and a friend. No matter what he was going through personally, he was devoted to helping everyone around him, whether that meant helping the kids at work trying to get through their struggles, or offering deep talks and laughs with his coworkers, the church, or his family. He was tough on you when you needed, but always ended the conversation with a positive note."
When word got out regarding the reasoning behind why Mr. Lin shot Hogan, many Wyomingites acknowledged that they would have done the exact same thing.
Because it's easy for others to say that, from behind a computer screen. It's easy for others to say what they would or wouldn't do when faced with the situation that Mr. Lin found himself in. It's easy for others to say that they'd shoot a pedophile between the legs if they ever touched someone they cared about. It's also easy for others to say that murder is murder is murder and that vigilante justice isn't any kind of justice at all.
It's easy for others, because, hopefully, they'll never have to be in that situation. But Mr. Lin was. And he did what he thought was the right thing.
Some people agree with what he did. Others don't. Hogan's older sister, Shenandra Richards, asked how could someone that preaches peace and forgiveness, somebody like Mr. Lin, brutally kill her little brother?
Richards called Mr. Lin "a menace to society who takes the law into his own hands."
But Mr. Lin's wife, Valenta Headd, disagreed.
"How would you feel if you just learned your grandchild was molested?" Valenta Headd asked. "I want y'all to look at him and know he's no monster."
So, which is it? Is Mr. Lin a monster or a martyr?
A GoFundMe was created for Mr. Lin by a man named Keith James and, in it, more details are offered about what led to that tragic night.
"It has been etched in history as such a crime of heartache," the description read. "This God fearing man and local preacher had to do what was necessary to protect his family. You see, Olinza’s granddaughter was being inappropriately cared for and molested by her mother's boyfriend. And when nothing was being done about it, matters were dealt with in a more personal fashion. It’s extremely sad that someone lost their life here, but [it's] even more tragic for the young child who has to live with this pain for the rest of her life. Her molester got a quick path to his demise. She, unfortunately, has her whole life of anguish ahead of her.
"Please donate to a wonderful cause here. Mr. Headd is no murderer. He is just a man who when placed in the position to take action to defend his blood, did so with NO hesitation. I can’t say that he is to blame here. The disgusting actions of this child’s molester caused more than just a little pain for all involved. None the less, Prayers are out for the family of this fallen man of course..... We are asking for donations for the Headd family who is now obviously in a financial crunch and extreme hardships. Attorney fees are 50k alone and his bond is running a 500$ weekly tab. He deserves to be with his family that he was ultimately protecting. Please look deep in your heart and realize that any one of us would do the same if placed in identical situations."
In addition to the GoFundMe, a protest is being planned for Friday, May 6 at 4:00 p.m., outside of the Casper Police Station.
"My heart broke when I heard the allegations," Lecky said of her friend and former coworker. "I cried a lot, but I knew the only thing I could do at that point was pray for my friend; and coming from someone who does not pray or even begin to understand religion, I didn't have a second thought about it because of everything he has taught me. I prayed to God that He would see the good in Lin and that He would help my friend get through this hard time. Lin is passionate and compassionate, and I will never think of him in any other way. I love Lin. We all love Lin. And I know that I can speak for many when I say we stand with him!"
And that appears to be the consensus within the community. It's certainly the consensus among those who knew him.
"Mr. Lin is a lot of different things to a lot of different people," another former coworker said. "Maybe you think he made a mistake. Maybe you think he didn't. Maybe you think he's a murderer. Maybe he's a monster, or maybe he's a martyr. But one thing Mr. Lin is not, is a coward. He proved that when he stood up and announced to his congregation what he had done. He proved it again when he opted not to fight the charges levied against him. Mr. Lin said he felt like he failed as a grandfather, by letting that man hurt his granddaughter. He couldn't be further from the truth. He not only protected his granddaughter; he protected every single other child that could have possibly been harmed by that man."
It's not up to the court of public opinion, or even the actual court, to decide whether Mr. Lin is a monster or a martyr. The court's job is to listen to the facts of the case and do what it thinks is best, whether it's just or not. As far as the court of public opinion? Well...here's that they had to say.