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Moorhead man honors murdered grandfather by adopting his name

MOORHEAD - Henry "Hank" Volochenko was killed more than two years ago at age 87, but on Friday, another Henry Volochenko lived on.

Henry "Hank" Volochenko proudly holds his grandson Jonathan shortly after Jonathan's birth.
Henry "Hank" Volochenko proudly holds his grandson Jonathan shortly after Jonathan's birth.

MOORHEAD – Henry "Hank" Volochenko was killed more than two years ago at age 87, but on Friday, another Henry Volochenko lived on.

His grandson Jonathan, to whom Hank was a substitute father, asked the court for a name change to Jonathan Henry Volochenko.

"My dad wasn't in the picture, so he was like my dad," the former Jonathan Herberg said. "He taught me how to weld, he taught me how to change my first tire on a car and a truck, he taught me a little woodwork."

His mother, Mary Volochenko, said her son spent a lot of time at Hank's house on Main Avenue here. "He did science projects over there, woodwork projects, Scout projects," she said, including the project that got Jonathan his Eagle Scout rank.

Two years, three months and some two weeks ago, Hank was found beaten to death in the house, a crime that remains unsolved.

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'Heartbroken'

Hank was in his 60s when Jonathan was born. There's a picture of the proud grandfather in a jacket and tie, cradling the swaddled newborn on Jonathan's Facebook page.

The boy's father left three months later.

"I don't think he ever really even knew his father," said Joann Koble, a family friend who was a witness at Jonathan's name-changing. Hank became an extremely important figure in the boy's life, she said.

Jonathan said he was helping out on the Volochenko family farm near Drake, N.D., when a friend informed him of Hank's death. "I was furious. I feel heartbroken, actually, that somebody would do that to my grandfather."

"Jon took it really hard," said Mary. "It took Jon down a little bit. Now he's back in school; that's good for him."

Jonathan, who lives in Moorhead, is in his second year at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton studying heating and cooling systems.

Kind to strangers

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Hank was born near Drake, joined the Army during World War II, and later opened Hank's Builders Supply first in Minot, N.D., and then Moorhead, according to his obituary at Korsmo Funeral Service in Moorhead.

His grandson said he was also a "man of all trades," skilled in welding, plumbing, carpentry and auto repair. "I just wanted to be like him when I was growing up. Ever since then, I wanted to change my name."

A couple of weeks ago on his birthday, Mary said she gave him money to change his name as a gift. "He wanted to take grandpa's name. He didn't want to change his first name because he said I was the one that named him."

Neighbors interviewed at the time of Hank's death said he was kind-hearted and would often open his doors to strangers down on their luck. Many of those strangers later cooperated with police and offered their DNA for testing, but it didn't lead to the killer.

"There was some good and there was some bad people there. There were some sketchy people," Jonathan said, remembering how some visitors scared him.

He said he hoped news of his name change might bring more attention to the case and perhaps lead to some progress. "I just want a little a justice, but God willing he'll meet Jesus at the pearly gates and there'll be justice. I know that."

Related Topics: MOORHEADCRIME
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