Home » Wife who set fire to husband, a former deputy sheriff, and watched him burn before eventually calling 911 is convicted of murder

Wife who set fire to husband, a former deputy sheriff, and watched him burn before eventually calling 911 is convicted of murder

by John Jefferson
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Evelyn Zigerelli-Henderson leaving court (Penn Live: YouTube screenshot) and mug shot (Dauphin County Prison)

A 68-year-old woman in Pennsylvania will likely spend the rest of her life behind bars for killing her husband, who was set on fire on the back patio of their home, and then trying to claim that his death was a suicide.

A Dauphin County jury on Friday found Evelyn Zigerelli-Henderson, a perennial candidate for elected office, guilty on one count each of second-degree murder, aggravated arson, and arson in the 2022 slaying of 84-year-old Carmen Henderson, the former county deputy sheriff, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Jurors deliberated for only 45 minutes before returning with the various guilty verdicts, according to a report from York, Pennsylvania Fox affiliate WPMT.

As reported by Law&Crime, Zigerelli-Henderson called 911 in the early morning hours of June 16, 2022, and told the emergency dispatcher that her husband had died after “starting a fire and burning himself.”

The dispatcher took notes on the call, writing: “something is very off with the caller. She is hesitant to answer questions,” court documents state.

First responders arrived at the residence at about 5 a.m. and found the victim — later identified as Carmen Henderson — burned to death and nude on the couple’s back patio. Authorities said they found fly larvae in his mouth and nostrils, indicating that he had been dead for a while.

Police said they first suspected Zigerelli-Henderson when her story about what happened started shifting.

Initially, Zigerelli-Henderson told investigators that she and her husband had argued the previous night and that she later woke up to find him burned to death outside, framing his death as a suicide.

When reminded, she told the emergency dispatcher that she heard her husband scream around 1 a.m. She revised her story to say his death was likely an accident caused by him smoking a cigar and starting a fire. An investigation by the Dauphin County Fire Investigation Team found that version of events to be “improbable.”

Zigerelli-Henderson’s story continued to change, authorities said.

Zigerelli-Henderson “eventually settled” on telling police that she saw her husband sitting in a folding camp chair with a lower pant leg on fire while screaming her name for help. In this story, Zigerelli-Henderson said she picked up the phone to dial 911 but decided against placing the call. She could not explain why she chose not to call when she knew he was on fire.

Investigators also quizzed the defendant on her relationship with the deceased and determined a financial motive for the murder.

The two were deep in debt, and Zigerelli-Henderson told police that it was largely her fault. Police say she admitted to spending the couple’s money on vacation homes, day spas, and other luxury goods and services. Additionally, Zigerelli-Henderson admitted that their shared business, Henderson Limousine Service, went out of business because she mismanaged the operation.

According to police, the couple’s “severe debt” included owing $40,000 due to a second mortgage on their home and owing back taxes. They also believed sheriff’s deputies would seize their property.

“(Zigerelli-Henderson) stated that she knew she would be homeless shortly,” the criminal complaint stated. “(Zigerelli-Henderson) said that C. Henderson would live with his children from another marriage. (Zigerelli-Henderson) stated she was not welcome to live with the children.”

As of Saturday morning, a date had not been set for Zigerelli-Henderson’s sentencing hearing.

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