By Burl Barer
Haena Worthing couldn’t save her stepdad’s life, but her quick mind and professional background as an event planner and brand perception expert saved her from certain death – but now she faces murder charges.
“An agent who worked for Gwen Stefani has been charged with the murder of her own stepfather. Haena Worthing, who represented the star at United Talent Agency, is suspected of killing William Webb, whose burned remains were discovered in Joshua Tree earlier this month.”
I don’t know Haena Worthing all that well. I only met her once or twice, and we only shared one really good conversation on a sunny afternoon more than five years ago. She impressed me then as bright, well-spoken, and self-assured with an interesting edge indicative of strong emotional undercurrents. In other words, you don’t want to piss her off.
Haena Worthing is currently held on two million dollars bail charged in the murder of William Webb, her stepfather. This is a tragic story from whatever angle it is viewed. Webb was indeed murdered but based upon my personal investigation and information shared with me by confidential informants, it wasn’t Haena who killed him. When the murder took place, Haena was cowering in another room, her hands pressed tight over her ears to block out the horrible sounds of her stepdad being beaten to death. Well, not quite “to death.” He wouldn’t die.
“He had the shit beat out of him by John Schiefer,” alleges one confidential source, “John is at least thirty years younger than Webb. Webb was in his seventies; and John is maybe 39 or 40. John started off hitting William with insults, taunts, followed by his fists. He finally took to whacking him in the head with a hammer to the point of near-death, and I mean that he wouldn’t die. Perhaps Schiefer regards physical attacks on senior citizens as “man’s work,” which may be why John sent his girlfriend, Shavonne Webster, to keep tabs on Webb’s stepdaughter, Haena, who left the room the moment the altercation began.
Webb, his head beat in, was making grotesque guttural gurgles and other sounds no one wants to hear. Like I said, he wouldn’t die. Well, it reached a point where no one could stand to hear these agonizing and pathetic sounds. That’s when John’s girlfriend, Shavonne Webster, acting all agitated, came out of the other room and kinda like a pissed off middle aged mom who’s had it up to here with the kids having the TV on too loud, she quickly strangled the last breath out of William Webb, you know, to get it all over with.” There you have it.
John Schiefer, for no apparent reason, or for reasons apparently incomprehensible, beat William Webb within an inch of his life. Shavonne Webster erased that last inch with cold determination and an icy demeanor. No way around it, no way to change it – Mr. Webb was irreversibly dead.
When Haena lifted her damp palms from her reddened ears, she heard the dead silence, cautiously stepped out into the crime scene looking as if she had hardly survived the assault herself.
She stared at Webb’s bloody corpse, then went to the linen closet and brought back a bed sheet with which she respectfully covered his body. No one said a word. There she was, standing with the couple who brutally and dispassionately murdered her stepfather. Were it not for the deafening silence, you could almost hear three sets of mental gears grinding away.
Haena didn’t need a Las Vegas mentalist to read the two murderers’ minds. It was simple and obvious.
She was either with them or a potential witness against them. They already killed her stepdad; they could certainly kill her. Hell, the bloody hammer was right there, and so was her head. Once you’ve killed someone, there is no reason not to kill someone else. Cruel killers don’t leave behind living witnesses. I don’t know her exact words or how she phrased them, but I am fairly certain the words that shattered the silence were something similar to “What do we do now? We obviously have to get rid of his body.” Get the picture? By saying “we” she included herself as one with the killers and not the corpse.
“Oh yeah, it was life or death depending on how she reacted to Webb being murdered. Either she was on the bus or under the bus.”
Nothing unites the emotionally traumatized with the trauma inducers faster than acknowledged and verbalized complicity in the crime, taking a creative and consulting role in how to conceal their mutual guilt, and then top it off by financing a $600 victory celebration with the victim’s own credit card. Consider that only Heana had the experience, skill and proven professional qualifications for taking complete charge of all post murder activities efficiently and effectively.
It may have been close to a decade since Heana gave up her show biz management career but like a martial artist with refined muscle memory, Heana kicked ass when she orchestrated elaborate launch parties and effective image and brand management events for UTA client Gwen Stefani. An event is an event, a crowd to impress and control is simply a crowd to impress and control, regardless of the product, the program or the personality.
Who do you think came up with the seemingly novel idea of burning Webb’s body in Joshua Tree, over 150 miles away? In the Haena, John and Shavonne trio, the last two never established reputations as creative visionaries who could, on a moments’ notice, recall a bizarre show biz story regarding the dead body of a country-rock icon and adapt it to an immediate and urgent situation.
Haena, however, was familiar with the body burning of singer-songwriter Graham Parsons (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers). Parsons was blessed with impressive talent, a beautiful singing voice, a kind and generous disposition, and as I personally witnessed during the length of our friendship, an astonishing tolerance for all manner of drugs in diverse combinations. Graham once voiced his desired that if he should ever O.D., he wanted his body burned at Joshua Tree.
Guess what? Graham devolved from tripping on LSD to dying of a heroin overdose on 19 September 1973, after his last ride to the Joshua Tree National Monument in California. Following Parson’s death in room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn, his roadie, Phil Kaufman found out the body was headed to Los Angeles International Airport. There was a family arranged funeral in New Orleans, but Kaufmann and his pals posed as funeral parlor workers, intercepted the casket and raced back to Joshua Tree to cremate Parson’s body.
They would have gotten away with it if they hadn’t started a fire where no fires were allowed. Park Rangers found about thirty-five pounds of Parsons left inside the casket.
It is my opinion that Haena, familiar with this “missing-body” story figured that if Joshua Tree were good enough for Graham Parsons, it was certainly acceptable for William Webb, the man her eight-year-old daughter called “Grandpa.”
A 153-mile road trip from Marina Del Rey would bond the trio as united in their views with their purposes harmonized: collective security for them, and planned “ashification” of Mr. Webb – a plan just as successful as that of Phil Kaufman. In other words, not very. The body is found and identified the very next day.
Sure, Webb will be reported missing by the woman many believe is his wife but is his ex-wife. She and her daughter, Haena live under the same luxurious roof of Webb’s 2.6-million-dollar home in one of the most desirable areas of sunny southern California. In fact, both his former wife of 15 years, Deb, and his stepdaughter, Heana want this valuable property for themselves, but a judge has ruled that it is William Webb’s property and he can sell it if he so wishes. He so wished.
Mr. Webb was murdered by a couple whose only association to the over-arching story of family disputes over real estate is that they rented a room in the home. Hey, it is not easy finding prestige places to live where you can rent a room and pretend you “live there” as if your success in life is manifest in every tile, brick or attractive piece of parquet.
Yes, it is a stupid motivation for murder or for anything at all. I think John and Shavonne never planned on killing Webb until John picked a fight he couldn’t lose, murdered a man he couldn’t kill, and had to watch his aggravated girlfriend do what he couldn’t seem to accomplish – end a human life. If you want to get technical and precise, Ms. Webster is the one who allegedly killed Webb with absolute sense of purpose. John attempted murder OR he just got so into beating up a man 30 years his senior that he forgot to stop after the first indications that Webb was not fighting back. Maybe all the fighting with his ex, Deb, used up all the fight he had.
Deb, now fighting cancer, can’t take the house with her either, and the only big house awaiting Haena is the women’s prison although Haena didn’t kill anyone, and her only crime is being smart enough to save her own life.
Self-preservation is not a crime, and if she were not so good at event planning and creating shared experiences, she may have been a second dead body on the floor in Marina Del Rey.
“William Webb and his wife, Deb were married for fifteen years before he filed for divorce in 2012,” recalled a longtime family friend and motorized unlicensed pharmacist, “That’s when it got like War of the Roses – it was full scale battle. He wanted to sell the house, but Deb didn’t want him to sell. Deb went to court in 2013 and tried to get an emergency order forcing her husband out of the house. That didn’t work – the order was denied. and about a year later, after their divorce was final, Webb was given full control of the property.”
Control of their tempers was even more difficult for both mother and daughter. An added problem was Haena’s reported diagnoses of bi-polar disorder, a condition easily treated with medication, but a condition that is often characterized by those so afflicted not taking their medication.
Haena allegedly left UTA due to her emotional/medical/psychiatric problems and an affinity for stimulants, both by prescription and by preference. She attended the obligatory drug rehab and pursued her talent management career independently. Her professional profile on Linkedin details the accomplishments that prepared her for her greatest challenge in event planning and image management.
“Haena was supposedly not taking her meds,” commented someone in the family circle. “She would show up at her stepdad’s house in the middle of the night and get into his papers etc. and he considered her, shall we say, problematic. But he did have honest care and affection for her and his ex-wife. Both mother and daughter moved back in with him recently because it was a better school district for Haena’s kid. He obviously wasn’t the monster that Deb always portrays him as.”
So, what now? Mr. Webb is dead, his charred remains found in a dry creek bed in Joshua Tree. Deb is in the house she wanted as her own, but she has cancer and even if she beats it, she will pass away in time and the house, in the fullness of time, will also pass away or earthquake damage will make it unsafe for human occupancy.
“In 2019, the humans who most desperately wanted the house were not fit for occupancy,” quipped a well-educated, undeniably beautiful and displeased former friend of Haena who met alleged murderers John and Shavonne shortly after Mr. Webb’s demise.
“Knowing that John was allegedly beating that man’s head in with a hammer, and that Shavonne supposedly ended Webb’s life by strangling or throttling or making a noose out of a garden hose or whatever the hell she did to polish him off makes me pissed off that Haena brought those people into my home when she, more than anyone, knew they were both incompetent…and accomplished: incompetent at being decent people, and accomplished at dragging a body 150 miles to set fire to it, and the damn body gets found and identified almost immediately. (sigh) Idiots. The world is crawling with life denying self-centered idiots.”
She leans back, smiles and then leans forward and grabs a fresh baked cookie with exaggerated glee. “Life isn’t fair. I hear people say that all the time. Bullshit. Life is fair. It is death that is unfair. I mean, did William Webb have to die to demonstrate that John and Shavonne are total failures as human beings? John and Shavonne can redeem themselves somewhat if they have the courage to tell the truth: Haena had nothing to do with the William Webb’s death. It won’t bring him back, but it will keep Haena from having to live her life under the shadow of an enormous lie. “
If she is punished for anything, it would be her role in transporting the body to Joshua Tree and burning it, but unlike the prosecution’s inevitable assertion that this was done in an attempt to conceal a crime, the truth is that she broke the law to save a life, and in the process of discovery - both in the dry creek bed in Joshua Tree, and a courtroom in California, the truth is revealed rather than concealed.
“Any law may be broken to save a life.”
IMPORTANT: Everyone mentioned in this story is PRESUMED INNOCENT, and you are not to presume guilt based on anything anyone says in this blog post. This is America, kids, and we don’t rush to judgement.
Copyright 2019 by Burl Barer. All Rights Reserved.
Burl Barer is an Edgar-award winning and Anthony-award nominated true crime writer.