(Editor's note: This story is adapted from a report by our news partners at ABC57. Read their report here.)
CASSOPOLIS — An Elkhart gang member who allegedly confessed to killing a coworker at the Ameri-Kart plant just north of Elkhart told investigators he had an ongoing beef with his coworker and heard voices in his head that led to the brutal stabbing.
William Henderson, 23, told investigators he had problems with 24-year-old Jan Mendez, who recently had moved to Elkhart from Puerto Rico in search of a better life. Henderson believed Mendez was in a rival gang, he said during a videotaped confession played during a preliminary hearing in Cass County 4th District Court on Wednesday.
On the video, Henderson said he was angry about Mendez swinging a hammer close to his face and getting Henderson's fingers caught in equipment. The tiff quickly escalated when the two men and another coworker were on a smoke break in the early morning hours of Jan. 11.
Henderson told investigators on the video that he felt disrespected by Mendez and told himself he had to "kill or be killed" because of their rival gang affiliations. Police have not indicated Mendez was part of any gang. Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz earlier said Henderson told investigators he wanted to join the "Murder Club" of his gang.
“Then I pulled out my knife and cleaned out underneath my nails — and I kind of replayed what he said in my head, like, what would my grandpa do? What would he say? And what would my mom think?” Henderson said on the video.
At that point, he admitted to stabbing Mendez in the neck.
“I was just gonna try to stab him and then throw him in the dumpster,” Henderson told investigators on the video. “Once I jabbed it in the first time, I just couldn’t stop.”
Mendez was pronounced dead at the Ameri-Kart plant, which is located at 19300 Grange St. in Mason Township, a few miles north of Simonton Lake.
Henderson then told investigators on the video that the killing was partially a response to voices in his head.
“I hear voices in my head constantly,” Henderson said on the video. “I can’t really describe them. Some of them sound like me and then other times they might sound like a female or cartoon characters – something I’ve been dealing with recently, pretty heavily. When I was younger I used to be really depressed.”
Based on the videotaped confession and testimony from other witnesses on Wednesday, Henderson was bound over for trial in Cass County Circuit Court on one count of open murder. If convicted, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The trial likely will take this spring unless Henderson decides to plead guilty or other delays pop up. Henderson's attorney, James Miller, has not decided whether to use Henderson's mental state when the killing took place as part of Henderson's defense.