For decades, Larry Hendrix was the go-to guy for any criminal investigator or prosecutor in the Augusta area.
Hendrix retired 10 years ago, but those who worked with him still remember his ability as a “master” investigator. Hendrix died Sunday at 71.
“These young guys didn’t get to know Larry,” said Glenn Rowland, who stepped in as the district attorney’s chief investigator when Hendrix retired in 2002. “They really missed out.”
When Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig left private practice to become the district attorney in January 1993, Hendrix became the most significant person in Craig’s career, he said.
As district attorney, Craig worked seven days a week for 60 to 80 hours, “and Larry was always there with me.” Regardless of the day, time or task, Craig said, he could count on Hendrix.
In the courtroom, Hendrix’s skills were unsurpassed, Craig said: “He was the master of putting together evidence and correlating it to the witnesses.”
District Attorney Ashley Wright agrees with that assessment.
”I remember him telling me what to do and always being right,” she said. As dedicated as he was to the work, Hendrix was always willing to share a joke or a smile, she said.
He was more than an investigator to prosecutors he worked with, Craig said.
“He was a great friend,” Craig said. “He knew everybody and had a relationship with everybody. I learned through the ages if you can’t get along with Larry Hendrix, you probably can’t get along with anybody.”
Before Rowland started with the sheriff’s department in 1977, when he was just 19 years old, Hendrix was a legendary investigator. When Rowland joined the district attorney’s office in 1989, Hendrix was there as a mentor and friend.
“He always called me ‘brother.’ We’d talk two or three times a week (after Hendrix’s retirement) and he ended every conversation with, ‘I love you, brother.’ Every time,” Rowland said. “As far as I was concerned, Larry knew everything.”
Lawyer James Ellison experienced a few deer-in-the-headlights moments at the beginning of his career in the district attorney’s office. Hendrix showed Ellison the way out more than once.
Back then, it was common for an assistant prosecutor to be assigned 30 or 40 of more than 100 criminal cases set for trial on a Monday morning. Once, all the cases fell through and the judge called one of the final cases, a defendant charged with being a habitual violator.
“Are you ready, Mr. Ellison?” the judge asked. Ellison said he sat dumbstruck, caught completely off guard.
“Larry leans over and whispers in my ear, ‘Say, “Yes, your honor.” ’ ”
Ellison did, but was panicked. He hadn’t prepared the case.
“Larry said, ‘Give me the file.’ ” Hendrix got everything lined up and ready to go that morning, Ellison said. “He was one of the best guys I’ve ever met.”
Hendrix was Sid Hatfield’s first partner when he joined the sheriff’s department in 1965. They were assigned to car 7, said Hatfield, who recently retired. Hendrix could do it all – investigative work, fingerprints and plaster casts, gathering physical evidence and photographing crime scenes.
“It was an honor to know him,” Hatfield said.
A memorial service for Hendrix will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of Thomas L. King Funeral Home, 124 Davis Road in Martinez.