By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
He remained married to Joan five years after she threw him out, but in July 2009 he finally filed for divorce in Dallas.
Anderson says they had plans to move in together, and that he'd already moved his things to her home. Beneath one of Sesay's stories, Anderson added a comment quoting what she says is one of Bongo's last text messages: "Am just patiently waiting for her damn car to get out of Toyota so she can give me the green car. I've been here forever doing all type of house work. I deserve something when am leaving. Knowing her if I leave she won't give Me a damn thing."
Anderson says near the end, Bongo would spend whole days crying. "He would say, 'Cheryl, I'm just confused.' He wanted me and him to just move and go to a different city, but as I told him, we're too old to start over."
Nat-George says that he and his old partner reconnected over the last year; with Haggerty finally leaving him, Bongo was frantic about losing his kids. "He would cry. I've never seen him like that," says Nat-George who offered to speak with Haggerty for him. But Bongo said she had already spoken with her pastor—her mind was made up.
Bongo's calls grew more desperate, Nat-George says, complaining he'd been given a 30-day deadline to move out of the house, and that he'd been getting calls from the man Haggerty had picked to replace him, calling him lazy, telling him to go get a job. "This guy would call Godfrey and ask, 'When are you leaving? I'm getting ready to move in.'" Nat-George says Haggerty had told him that was the plan, too. "Let's say she doesn't want to be with Godfrey, she has the right to do it. But I don't think that's the way," Nat-George says. "It was too much in his face."
Rosemarie Percy, an aunt who was close to Haggerty in Dallas, says Haggerty was planning to leave Bongo, but denies she was leaving him for another man. "She was just tired." Haggerty took care of the kids and the housework, on top of her nursing job and the home health care service she ran on the side. Percy says all Bongo did was remain unemployed and hang around the house. Yes, there was a time when Haggerty wanted to marry him, but Bongo only strung her along, she says. Haggerty would often tell her about fights when Bongo hit her, but she'd put off leaving. "She was always trying to protect him because of the kids."
In a last ditch effort to shake Bongo out of his depression, Nat-George invited Bongo to join him for a pair of performances last December, at fundraisers for Sierra Leonean aid groups in Dallas. He says he hoped Bongo would find some comfort, a reminder of the old days. Bongo showed up late for one performance, and said he wouldn't be able to stay long afterward. "He said, 'You know what, it's been so long, I depend on you to direct me.'" Nat-George reprised his old Dandogo act and Bongo got back into character with a corduroy suit and a big pipe; together they improvised a 20-minute sketch. "It turned out good, but he was kind of rusty," Nat-George says. Bongo stuck around talking with fans long after the show. "I think he was excited."
Despite the performances, Bongo's frantic phone calls continued throughout the spring and summer. "One day," Nat-George says, "he asked me a question that always haunts me." It was early July, two weeks before the murders. "He asked me, 'Did you know that Claudia's brother was murdered in Maryland?' I said, 'Yeah, I know, the other lady was a first-cousin of mine,'" Nat-George recalls. "He said, 'I heard that her brother was beaten on the head until he passed.' I said, 'That's what I heard.' And he said, 'Maybe that's how she'll go.'"
On Saturday night, July 17, Haggerty's aunt received a call from her niece around 9:15. She'd given Bongo until Sunday to move out, but Haggerty said "things were getting too tense," and asked to come over for the night. Percy, a nurse, was working the late shift and told Haggerty to call her cousin Joseph, who told investigators he'd never heard from her that night. Percy later noticed a missed call from Haggerty at around 11:40, but there was no answer when she returned the call.
Percy called police the next day, concerned that she still hadn't heard anything from Haggerty, and around 9:30 Sunday night, officers arrived at the couple's two-story brick home in southern Mesquite. Officers reached Godfrey Jr. at his sleepaway church camp (Elizabeth had been staying with family), who told them his parents had been arguing but, according to the police report, said he "was unaware of any physical violence."
Officers busted open the front door to find Haggerty's body at the foot of the stairs. In an orange top and a festive white skirt, she was wrapped in a comforter, her face swollen, bruised and covered in bloody shoe prints. There was a pool of blood under her head, and officers reported she looked as though she had been dead "for several hours." Claudia's purse had been emptied onto the floor downstairs; upstairs, there was blood smeared inside the master bedroom doorway.