Rachel Henry is a 22-year-old Arizona woman who is accused of killing her three young children at their home in Phoenix. Henry was arrested after her kids — a 7-month old girl, a 2-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy — were found dead on Monday, January 20, 2020, Phoenix Police said in a statement. Henry has been booked into jail on three counts of first-degree murder.
The children have been identified by the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner as Zane Henry, Mireya Henry and Catalaya Rios. Family members told police the children had been ill earlier in the day, a police spokesperson said at a press conference. Investigators said the three children were found unresponsive Monday night at the home at 24th Street and Southern in Phoenix. Officers were responding to a 911 call for “unknown trouble” at the home and found the kids just inside the front door in a living room area. The officers attempted CPR and other first responders provided aid when they arrived, but the children were pronounced dead at the scene, Phoenix Police said.
Henry had previously lost custody of her son and daughter because of her issues with drug addiction, a prosecutor said in court on Tuesday, KTVK-TV reports. Henry had lived in Oklahoma until moving to Arizona in summer 2019, according to police. Her children had been taken away from her while she was still in Oklahoma, KPNX-TV reports.
Henry lived in the Phoenix home with the 30-year-old father of her three children and a 49-year-old woman who is referred to in court documents as an aunt of either Henry or the children’s father and the homeowner. Police were still interviewing them, but do not believe they were aware that the children had been killed until the 911 call was made, according to court documents.
Here’s what you need to know about Rachel Henry:
1. Rachel Henry Told Police She Smothered Her 3 Children to Death & Placed Them on the Living Room Couch ‘As If They Were Taking a Nap,’ According to Court Documents
Phoenix Police responded to a 911 call at 2520 East Vineyard Road about 7:20 p.m. on January 20, 2020, according to court documents. The caller, an unidentified female, told police three children were dead inside the home. Officers, firefighters and EMS personnel arrived and determined the kids were deceased.
One of the other adult residents of the home told police the children had last been seen alive at 2 p.m. The children’s mother, Rachel Henry, had told the relative that she would put the kids down for a nap while the relative went to pick up the other adult resident from work, according to the probable cause affidavit filed by police. At 3 p.m., when the other adults returned, Henry was holding her 7-month-old daughter and her 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter appeared to be sleeping on the couch in the living room. Henry told the relative she would be taking the 7-month-old into her room for a nap and the relative did not see the baby awake again after that.
Police said in the probable cause statement, “Rachel admitted to smothering each child starting with the one-year-old female.” She told police she was playing with the 1-year-old girl, wrestling on top of her, and “felt the 1-year-old female’s breathing was obstructed but continue to impede her breath by placing her hand over (her) mouth. Rachel stated (the girl) kicked as she did so, while the 3-year-old male yelled no at her in an attempt to get her to stop.”
Police said the 3-year-old boy tried to help his 1-year-old sister by punching Henry, “to no avail.” Henry told police she knew she had killed her daughter “when she stopped kicking” her. Henry said she chased the 3-year-old boy and was interrupted when someone arrived back at the house. Henry told police she spent time playing with the boy and took him into a back bedroom where she changed his underpants.
According to police, “As Rachel did so, she placed the 3-year-old male on the floor of the bedroom, straddled him with one of her legs and placed her hand over his nose and mouth. Rachel described singing to the 3-year-old male,” as he scratched her chest and pinched her. She told police she used her weight on top of him to smother him until he died, according to the affidavit.
“Rachel fed the 7-month-old female a bottle in her bedroom until she fell asleep,” police said. “Rachel sang her a song as she placed her hand over her face and impeded her breath. Rachel sang to the 7-month-old female until she became unconscious and died. Rachel placed all of the children in a position on the living room couch as if they were taking a nap. Rachel did not tell (redacted) or (redacted) what happened.”
Autopsy results have not yet been released by the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner. The full probable cause statement can be read here.
Police responded after someone called 911 without having much information about what they were responding to, Phoenix Police Sergeant Mercedes Fortune said at a press conference on Tuesday. “When officers arrived that’s when they contacted the three adults, which included the mother, the father and another relative. They were directed inside the home and that’s when they saw the three children.”
Fortune said the call came from inside the home, but she said she wasn’t sure who exactly made the call. She said it is believed to be one of the adult relatives, not Henry, who called 911. About the cause of death, Fortune told reporters, “Our medical examiner is going to do the examination of the three children and that’s going to be determined by them,” Fortune said. “Right now we know that based on what the mother is saying that she did harm her three children.”
2. Henry’s Family Told Police She Had Been Addicted to Meth in the Past & Had Been Acting Strangely in Recent Days
One of Rachel Henry’s family members told police she had a methamphetamine addiction and “had been acting strange the past several days,” according to court documents.
Phoenix Police Sergeant Mercedes Fortune told reporters, “This investigation is still ongoing. There’s still a lot of collection and gathering of evidence that still needs to be done and obviously there’s going to be other interviews with witnesses and additional information. As you can imagine this case is very complex and there’s a lot of moving parts to it.”
Fortune said she did not know if the mother had provided a reason for harming the children and she said that would be part of the ongoing investigation.
According to Fortune, Rachel Henry had moved to Arizona recently from Oklahoma. The home where she was living with her two family members and three children is on a property that also includes a business, possibly a landscaping company or nursery, but Fortune said she was not sure whether Henry’s family is associated with it.
3. Rachel Henry Graduated From Prague High School in Oklahoma & Had Studied to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant
According to her Facebook page, Rachel Milan Henry is a native of San Diego, California, but graduated in 2011 from Prague High School in Oklahoma, near Oklahoma City. She was living in Oklahoma until recently, according to police.
Henry studied to be a certified nursing assistant at the Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma, according to her Facebook profile. She began her studies there while still in high school and graduated in May 2019. Henry is unemployed, a Maricopa County prosecutor said in court.
Anthony Repsher, a friend of Henry’s from Prague, told Fox 10 Phoenix, “I’ve been around here a lot. I mean, I helped her mom out quite a bit. Repsher said he was shocked by what Henry is accused of. He said he and his wife, Tiffani Hardy, became friends with Henry about six years ago, “Rachel and my wife actually became very close. They hang out quite a bit, but we got to see a lot of drama that went on at the house. As a matter of fact, she’d even babysit my children. I’ve never noticed any kind of depression or anger or hostility towards children or anyone else.”
Hardy told the news station, “I never would have suspected that from her. I knew she was unhappy, but not to that extent.” According to her friends, Henry’s mother died recently and she moved to Arizona after her death.
In 2014, Henry wrote on Facebook, “Life can’t be tamed and it isn’t a game. Expect the unexpected. Don’t let your guard down for one second if you do life will come back and knock your lights out. … Love is the reason you keep your guard up though. Until someone comes along and proves that they deserve it. But you live, laugh, and learn along the way. Life is too short to be anything but happy. So that is why you have to live life to the fullest and not allow anyone put you down. … You also have to stand up for yourself and not let anyone take advantage of you or what you do. Just ignore the negative things and have fun!”
Henry shared a meme in 2014 that said, “Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them the rest of their life. Sometimes good people make bad choices, it doesn’t mean they are bad. It means they are human.”
4. Phoenix’s Mayor Called the Killings ‘an Atrocity’
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued a statement on the triple homicide, saying, “Yesterday our city’s public safety officers responded to the scene of a heartbreaking triple homicide. Three innocent children lost their lives. This atrocity defies the realms of one’s worst nightmares. Our thoughts are foremost with the victims and their family members as they navigate this painful and complex time.”
Gallego added, “I also want to take a moment to give my gratitude to those public safety personnel who responded to the crime scene and are currently investigating. This is an investigation that will undoubtedly stick with these individuals for the rest of their lives. It is horrific cases, like this one, that should give us all pause to thank the first responders who face this unimaginable situation head on whole answering the call to public service.”
She said, “Please keep these patrol officers, homicide investigators, firefighters, paramedics, crime scene technicians, lab personnel, duty commanders, dispatchers, employee assistance unit personnel and police public information officers in your thoughts.”
5. Rachel Henry Is Being Held on $3 Million Bail at the 4th Avenue Jail in Phoenix
Rachel Henry is being held in the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix on $3 million bail, according to online records. She was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
She made a brief court appearance on January 21 and had the charges read to her by a judge. She has not yet been appointed an attorney. According to The Arizona Republic, Henry mumbled softly to the judge during the court hearing. She asked, “I’m not getting released?” after learning her bond had been set at $3 million. The judge told her she would need to post 10 percent of the bond in collateral, the newspaper reports.
Henry, “sighed deeply and quietly asked for access to a bail bondsman,” the newspaper reports. She then was told by the judge a phone and necessary numbers would be given to her at the jail. Henry told the judge, “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get any money. I don’t have a job or anything.”
Video recorded by news cameras showed Henry being led into the 4th Avenue Jail by two Phoenix police officers. She was wearing a white Tyvek disposable suit and had her hands cuffed behind her back.
Henry does not appear to have a prior criminal record in Arizona or Oklahoma. She is scheduled to return to court on January 31.