Court date set for Schlitterbahn co-owner facing murder charge; officials searching for designer

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, Jeffrey Wayne Henry, is scheduled to make his first court appearance at the Wyandotte County District Court next week.

Jeff Henry

FOX4 learned that he is scheduled to make an appearance Thursday, April 5 at 2 p.m.

Henry had his first appearance in a Cameron County, Texas, court on Wednesday for an extradition hearing where he said he would not oppose extradition to Kansas to face numerous charges, including second-degree murder for the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab. Henry is one of three Schlitterbahn leaders that were charged.

See video of that first court appearance in the video player above.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to FOX4 they have been actively searching for and seeking to arrest the ride's co-designer, John Timothy Schooley, who has also been charged in connection to Caleb's death. The U.S. Marshals were ordered to find Henry and Schooley on March 21.

Schooley is reportedly out of the country on business but is aware that he has been charged and is wanted, the U.S. Marshals spokesperson said. U.S. Marshals said they have received information on Schooley's location.

"The U.S. Marshals can only confirm we are actively working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to locate John Schooley. In the event Schooley fled the U.S., it is not uncommon for the Marshals to coordinate with the Department of Justice and the U.S. State Department in an effort to locate an international fugitive," a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement Friday.

On Wednesday, officials said Kansas plans to conduct a full audit of Schlitterbahn's inspection records before it reopens this spring.

The announcement comes after criminal charges were filed over the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy on the Verruckt water slide.

The Kansas Department of Labor said it will review reports from daily inspections of rides by park staff at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, before it is scheduled to reopen May 25 for its annual season. A state law enacted last year after 10-year-old Caleb Schwab's death requires amusement parks to keep daily reports on their rides and to give them annual inspections.

Caleb Thomas Schwab

A grand jury has issued indictments with multiple criminal charges against the park; the construction company that built the giant water slide; former park operations director Tyler Austin Miles; the ride's co-designer, John Timothy Schooley; and a co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, Jeff Henry.

Read the full first indictment here.

Read the full second indictment here.

Henry, Schooley and the construction company face one felony count of second-degree murder, and Miles and the park face one count of involuntary manslaughter, over Caleb's death. Both companies and the three men also face several other charges.

Caleb died when the raft he was riding on the 17-story Verruckt water slide went airborne and hit an overhead loop.

State law allows parks to have their own staff do daily inspections and to have private inspectors do the annual inspections, rather than state inspectors. The inspectors doing the annual reviews must be either licensed engineers with two years' experience with amusement rides, have five years' experience in inspecting rides or have been certified by one of three industry groups.

Hersh said the audit will show whether the park has been conducting the required inspections and maintaining proper records on them as it prepares to reopen for the season.

"They will have a notebook full of inspections," she said.

The Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kansas.

Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in a statement Tuesday that the latest indictment against Henry, Schooley and the construction company "is filled with information that we fully dispute."

The company also posted a statement on its website that all park attractions are "thoroughly inspected daily" by supervisors and managers.

Also, it said, before the park opens for the season, each ride has a thorough internal review and an inspection from "an independent third party." The statement said the park's insurance provider also conducts annual inspections.

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