MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - More details of a family killing that claimed the lives of five people, including an unborn child, were spelled out in court Thursday during a preliminary hearing for Rhonda Carlson. She is accused of helping co-defendant and husband Christopher Henderson in the murders.
Rhonda Carlson is charged with capital murder in the Aug. 4 killing of Kristen Henderson, Christopher Henderson's 9-months-pregnant wife, and their unborn child, along with her 8-year-old son, her mother and her 1-year-old nephew.
Today the unborn child, formerly referred to only as 'Baby Doe,' was named as Lauren Robin Smallwood. She was due to be born in less than two weeks when the killings happened.
They were all killed at the New Market home owned by Kristen Henderson’s parents. The house was set on fire after the victims were either stabbed or shot.
The strangeness of the case is magnified by the fact that Christopher Henderson’s co-defendant in the killings is his other wife, Rhonda Carlson.
Madison County Sheriff’s Office investigator Eugene Nash testified today that surveillance video, given to investigators by the victims' families, shows Carlson entering the home on one occasion and later running near the house carrying a gas can and wearing gloves.
The video later shows Christopher Henderson and Carlson running out the front door, Nash testified.
Nash said state fire marshal investigators determined accelerant was poured throughout the house and ruled the fire arson.
He said he interviewed Rhonda Carlson for almost three hours and said Carlson admitted to bringing a gas can to set the house on fire. Nash asked her why. Carlson said when her husband Christopher Henderson started dating Kristen Smallwood, it left her homeless. She told Nash she wanted Kristen to know what that felt like.
Nash also said Carlson told him, "I'm glad you caught me when you did because I don't know if I could have lived with myself after what I've done."
Kristen Henderson had obtained a protection order against her husband about a week before the killings. At that time she learned of Henderson’s other wife. Investigators said she filed a bigamy complaint against Henderson with the Huntsville Police Department. He had filed to divorce her in mid-July.
The next step in the case is for the evidence to be presented to a grand jury. That could take several months, according to Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both defendants.