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Harrisburg woman charged with homicide in connection to husband's fiery death

Evelyn Henderson is accused of killing her 84-year-old husband, Carmen Henderson, in their Susquehanna Township home, according to police.
Credit: Susquehanna Township Police
Evelyn Henderson

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Police in Dauphin County have charged a Harrisburg woman with homicide and aggravated arson after determining she killed her husband in their Susquehanna Township home.

Evelyn Henderson, 66, of the 300 block of Stuart Place, was charged Thursday after investigators determined their were inconsistencies in her story of how her husband died, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed by Susquehanna Township Police.

According to the complaint, Henderson called 911 at 5:26 a.m. Thursday to report that her husband, Carmen Henderson, 84, had died in a fire. Evelyn Henderson told the dispatcher that she believed her husband committed suicide by starting a fire and burning himself to death, according to the complaint.

During her 911 call, Henderson said she heard her husband "yell" at about 1 a.m., but said she didn't call 911 at the time because "he was already burnt," according to the complaint.

In a note to police, the dispatcher reported that "something was very off" with Henderson's account and that she "was hesitant to answer questions," the complaint states.

When police arrived, they found the body of Carmen Henderson lying on the rear patio of the home. He was severely burned and deceased, according to the complaint.

Investigators noted that Carmen Henderson appeared to be naked, and evidence at the scene indicated his death was not recent.

During interviews with investigators, Evelyn Henderson changed her story several times, initially claiming her husband had committed suicide but later telling investigators his death was an accident. She also altered the timeline of events, according to police.

Police say Henderson "eventually settled" on the following account of events: At 3 p.m. the previous day, she looked outside and saw her husband was on fire but still alive, sitting in a folding camp chair with the lower legs of his pants on fire. He called to her for help, and she picked up the phone to call 911, but then put it back down without calling. Henderson could not explain why she didn't call 911 right away, according to the complaint.

Further investigation determined the Hendersons were in severe debt, owing at least $40,000 on a second mortgage, the complaint states. 

Evelyn Henderson admitted to spending all their money on vacation homes, spa treatments, and other activities. Her mismanagement of funds caused the couple's business, Henderson Limousine Service, to go bankrupt, she allegedly told police.

In addition, the Hendersons were delinquent on their taxes, and the sheriff's office was about to seize their home, she told police. 

She also said Carmen Henderson would be able to live with his children from a previous marriage once the couple lost their home, but she would not be welcome to live with the children, according to the complaint.

Henderson admitted she had a $10,000 life insurance policy on her husband, police say in the complaint.

An investigation by the Dauphin County Fire Investigation Team determined it was "improbable" that Carmen Henderson could have been responsible for starting the fire that killed him by smoking a cigar, as Evelyn Henderson claimed. 

Evelyn Henderson was formerly active in local politics, according to Pennlive. She ran for several local offices, including Dauphin County Court of Clerks, Susquehanna Township School Board, county sheriff, and prothonotary.

Carmen Henderson is a former Dauphin County Deputy Sheriff, who retired in 1995, also according to Pennlive.

The couple had been married for approximately 30 years.

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