crimesider

Loleini Tonga, Chris Henry's Fiancee, at Center of Storm; Homicide Detectives Look into NFL Death

(AP Photo/The Enquirer, Jeff Swinger)
(AP Photo/Barry D. Scheffel)
(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
(MySpace)
CHARLOTTE,NC (CBS/AP) After a history of troubles with the law, in recent days NFL star Chris Henry seemed to be coming back from the personal and professional brink. He credited much of his success to his fiancée Loleini Tonga. But that relationship now seems to be at the center of the athlete's death.

Photo: Cincinnati Bengals Chris Henry with fiancée Loleini Tonga, and kids: DeMarcus, 10 months, Seini, 3, and Chris Jr., 2, Sept 15, 2009.

PICTURES: Chris Henry Remembered

Henry passed away Thursday from injuries he sustained after he fell from the back of a moving truck. Police have said Tonga was driving the vehicle after a "domestic dispute" between the two.

Photo: Chris Henry with his then-girlfriend Loleini Tonga and one of their three children at Bengals training camp.

PICTURES: Chris Henry Remembered

Now, homocide detectives have been assigned to the case, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokesperson Rosalyn Harrington.

Police say that Henry was rushed to the hospital Dec. 16 after being found on a residential road near Charlotte. Police said the dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and that Henry jumped into the bed of the pickup truck as Tonga was driving away from the residence.

Photo: Chris Henry.

PICTURES: Chris Henry Remembered

Police said at some point when she was driving, Henry "came out of the back of the vehicle." Police have not released the 911 tapes, and Harrington wouldn't say if Tonga was present at the scene when police arrived.

They have not released the cause of death and the coroner said they are expecting to receive the body later today.

Henry is engaged to Tonga, and the couple has been raising three children. On Tonga's MySpace page she identifies herself as "Mrs. C. Henry" and has a picture of her next to a person who appears to be Henry.

MySpace Photo: Loleini Tonga seen with Chris Henry.

PICTURES: Chris Henry Remembered

She also has a post from Dec. 15 talking about buying wedding rings. A neighbor said Wednesday that the Tonga family owns the home where police say the incident began. Tonga's parents live in Charlotte.

Henry was labeled a problem child after multiple run ins with referees and police alike throughout his football career but had recently found a new lease on his professional life after the Cincinatti Begals decided to give him a second chance. He was on leave from the team after a season-ending injury when he died.

In an interview with the Associated Press just after returning to the locker room for the first time since surgery to fix a fracture, Henry sounded confident he could get through the latest setback.

"It just comes with time, you know?" he said. "I learned to handle all situations, so I'll be all right."

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
December 17, 2009 - Chris Henry Dead: NFL Star Thrown From Truck During Dispute with Fiancee Loleini Tonga, Say Cops


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