Bakari Henderson's Siblings Reflect on Aftermath of His Mob Killing in Greece: 'It Was Unimaginable'

Speaking with Janine Rubenstein on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, Jory and PJ Henderson discuss the moment they learned their brother had been killed while celebrating his college graduation overseas

Bakari Henderson
Bakari with older brother, PJ, and younger sister, Jory. Photo: The Henderson Family

Bakari Henderson was 22 years old when a mob of white men beat him to death while he was celebrating his college graduation in Greece. Back in Austin, Texas, his family was left reeling when they got the news, struggling to process his sudden killing and get information from authorities overseas.

Ahead of a long-delayed retrial seeking murder convictions for Bakari's killers, the Henderson family — father Phil, mother Jill, brother PJ and sister Jory — sat down with PEOPLE Every Day host Janine Rubenstein to talk about their journey to justice and reflect on the young man who they called "the heartbeat of the family."

When the Hendersons received a late-night call from the U.S. Embassy in July 2017, their world was shattered in an instant.

"I was asleep and I just heard this God awful sound come from downstairs, and I woke up immediately and was scared to come downstairs," Jory, now 24, says of the night they got the news. "I went into my parents' bedroom and my mom was just inconsolable. I was like, 'What happened?' And my dad told me that Bakari had been killed. It was unimaginable for me."

Bakari's older brother, PJ, now a 31-year-old firefighter, was in Houston when his dad called him about Bakari's death. "It was the worst news I've ever heard," he says. "It was rough." PJ traveled to Austin to be with family, and when he arrived, there was already a big group of people at the home helping Jill get more details about what happened.

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One of Jory's last memories with Bakari from before he left for Greece sticks out in her mind as an example of the kindness he showed to everyone he met.

"We went to yoga class together and he and I were both in the front because we got there early," she recalls. "But as the class packed in, he was like, 'Hey, I'm gonna move to the back. I don't wanna block the view of others,' because he's pretty tall."

"I thought that was really kind of him and [shows how] he's always looking out for someone else," she says.

Bakari (left) with Jory, Jill, Phil and PJ. Courtesy Henderson Family

Unfortunately, the strangers who attacked Bakari did not have a chance to see the big heart he possessed.

"If they only got to know him, they would've loved him," Phil said in a previous interview on CBS Mornings. On the podcast, he says: "We hope and pray that this time we actually get justice, and our faith tells us that we are this time, so we're hopeful and prayerful."

The retrial for Bakari's killers is currently scheduled to begin on March 22 — a few weeks before what would have been Bakari's 27th birthday — after being delayed multiple times, most recently due to a juror in the trial falling ill. During the trial, a Greek prosecutor will attempt to convince a panel of judges and jury members that his killers should be convicted of intentional homicide charges. The initial trial in 2018 sought the same goal, unsuccessfully.

Soon, Bakari's family will travel back to Greece for a sixth time for hearings to speak about their son with the goal of showing the court just how much was taken from them in July of 2017.

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