Family, supporters of Air Force senior airman rallies for an independent investigation into her death

Local News

DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) – One year has passed since 21-year-old U.S. Senior Airman Kayli Jefferson-Henkel was found dead in her Vacaville home. 

“My daughter was — not what happened to her. My daughter was, she was, everybody’s best friend,” said Jefferson-Henkel’s mother Kim Jefferson

Jefferson and dozens of supporters rallied in Davis Saturday morning to demand answers about her death. 

“She was my hero. My hero,” said Jefferson.

Leia Schenk, a spokesperson for the family, led the demonstration outside Congressman John Garamendi’s office. 

“She put that uniform on and she was proud of her position she was good at her job she loved what she did. She was a happy, healthy young girl,” said Schenk.

Jefferson-Henkel was stationed at Travis Air Force Base but lived off-base with a male roommate. 

“This mother is not asking for handouts this mother is not asking for anything special. This mother and this family standing behind me is asking for answers,” said Schenk.

Vacaville police said evidence at the scene, including a call into a suicide hotline minutes before her death, led investigators to declare her death a suicide. 

It’s a claim her family and supporters said they wholeheartedly dispute. 

“Her mother spoke to her on a regular basis. There were no signs of depression. There were no signs that she was unhappy. Something went wrong that day, and we want to know what went wrong,” explained Schenk.

Demonstrators said Jefferson-Henkel’s death was never fully investigated by Vacaville police or the U.S. Air Force.

The family claims the Air Force blocked them from obtaining a private autopsy done to determine her time and cause of death. 

They believe someone else may have been involved in her death after the family viewed Jefferson-Henkel’s body days after she died. 

“Her mother had to see her body with a broken neck, with black eyes, with bruised and scarred knuckles, this baby had acid poured on her, okay,” explained Schenk. “That is not conducive to her walking in that room and committing suicide.”

The rally comes less than 24 hours after Congressman John Garamendi penned a letter to the inspector general joining the family’s pleas for an investigation into Jefferson-Henkel’s death. 

They said they won’t stop until they get answers.

FOX40 reached out to the United States Air Force for comment about the rally and the calls for an independent investigation but have yet to receive a response. 

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