MADISON COUNTY, AL — Christopher Matthew Henderson, 42, and Rhonda Jean Carlson, 44, have been indicted on a combined total of 37 capital murder charges (he faces 19; she’s got 18) following a horrific 2015 mass slaying that took five lives.
Specifically, the couple is accused of shooting and stabbing Henderson’s original wife and family inside his mother-in-law’s home, and then setting the residence on fire.
Henderson and Carlson’s alleged murder victims are identified as:
• Kristen Smallwood Henderson, 35, who was nine months pregnant
• Loryn Brooke Smallwood, Kristen’s unborn child with Henderson
• Clayton Daniel Chambers, 8, Kristen’s son from a previous relationship
• Carol Jean Smallwood, 67, Kristen’s mother
• Eli Reed Sokolowski, 1, Kristen’s nephew
According to court documents, Henderson and Carlson conspired to wipe out the family after Kristen discovered her husband had secretly married again. She immediately filed for divorce and a restraining order.
Among the gruesome details is that Henderson and Carlson allegedly killed Loryn by “cutting her from the womb of her mother and then stabbing her multiple times.” They also reportedly stabbed one-year-old Eli, who then died from smoke inhalation.Immediately following the crime, while firefighters battled the blaze, relatives used their cell phones to show responding officers video taken by the home’s surveillance system.
Right on the spot, the cops saw footage of Henderson and Carlson entering Carol’s house with a gas can, then bolting out just before the flames erupted.
Following his arrest, Henderson reportedly said to a detective, “I’m glad you caught me when you did, because I couldn’t live with what I’ve done.”
Main photos: Christopher Henderson and Rhonda Carlson in 2015 [Madison County Sheriff’s Office]