An Alabama couple is facing dozens of murder charges between them after the pair allegedly killed five family members and burned a home down on August 4, 2015. The motive for the killing spree perpetuated by 42-year-old Christopher Henderson and 44-year-old Rhonda Carlson was connected to Henderson’s alleged bigamy, according to investigators.
One of the Alabama couple’s victims was reportedly Henderson’s wife, who had filed for a divorce and obtained a restraining order after learning of her husband’s bigamy.
The Madison County District Attorney’s office recently indicted Christopher Henderson on 19 charges of capital murder; Rhonda Carlson was indicted on 18. The Alabama couple was also charged with first-degree arson related to one murder charge each. Henderson and Carlson are reportedly married, and together murdered 35-year-old Kristen Smallwood, Henderson’s “second wife.”
Smallwood was reportedly pregnant and nearly at term at the time of the murders. In addition to murdering Smallwood by shooting and/or stabbing her repeatedly, the Alabama couple is accused of cutting the female fetus from her womb and stabbing it several times.
As PEOPLE reports, authorities investigating the horrific crime reportedly discovered surveillance video evidence that allegedly showed the Alabama couple entering the home, which was owned by Carol Smallwood, Kristen’s mother. They were reportedly in possession of a gas can. After they fled the scene, the home burst into flames.
Investigators later found a gun in a vehicle belonging to Rhonda Carlson.
In addition to the murders of Kristen Smallwood and her nearly to-term fetus, the Alabama couple also stands accused of killing her 8-year-old son Clayton Chambers, her 67-year-old mother Carol, and her 1-year-old nephew Eli Sokolowski. Authorities say that Chamber was stabbed to death, Carol Smallwood was shot and little Eli had been stabbed but died of smoke inhalation due to the arson allegedly committed by the Alabama couple.
AL.com reports that Christopher Henderson and Rhonda Carlson were formally indicted on July 28 of this year, but have been incarcerated since they were arrested in connection with the slayings in August of 2015.
Investigators were first alerted to the horrific murders when responding to reports of a house fire with victims possibly trapped inside. As firefighters battled the arson fire, members of the slain family were already sharing surveillance images of the home with law enforcement via their cellphone’s access to the system. Reportedly, the surveillance system had been installed just one week before the Alabama couple allegedly committed the vicious murders.
The cameras were reportedly purchased after Kristen Smallwood was granted a protective order against Christopher Henderson.It was in those surveillance videos that the Alabama couple was reportedly observed entering and exiting the home just prior to the fire breaking out.
After his arrest, Christopher Henderson expressed remorse for his part in the murder spree in a jailhouse interview.
“I’m glad you caught me when you did, because I couldn’t live with what I’ve done.”
The Alabama couple was charged with 18 counts of capital murder apiece for the five slayings due to the fact that the victims were killed during “a first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, killing two or more people and in the process of killing children younger than 14.” Christopher Henderson was charged with an additional count of capital murder because he allegedly murdered his second wife while also violating the protective order she had obtained against him.
Henderson is being represented by attorney Bruce Gardner, it is unclear whether or not Carlson has obtained legal representation. Future court dates for the Alabama couple have not yet been scheduled.
[Featured Image by Madison County Sheriff’s Department]