A woman has been charged with killing her retired deputy sheriff husband and burning his naked body on their back porch.
Evelyn Zigerelli-Henderson, 66, stands accused of criminal homicide, aggravated arson, and arson, following a grisly discovery at the couple’s house Thursday, in the Pennsylvania suburb of Susquehanna, 40 miles north of Scranton.
Cops said that when they came across the badly burned body of 84-year-old Carmen Henderson at around 5am, fly larvae found in the former Dauphin County chief deputy sheriff’s nose and mouth indicated he had been dead for some time.
Larvae typically form in a rotting corpse after one to three days.
Lawmen came across the ex-cop’s savaged body after Zigerelli-Henderson, a former political candidate and politician in the county, called 911 to tell dispatchers she suspected her husband had set himself on fire, a probable cause affidavit shows.
However, cops said she took four hours to make the call – and once cops arrived, she could not keep a straight story, spurring officers to become suspicious.
According to police, the dispatcher wrote in notes of Zigerelli-Henderson late-night call: ‘Something is very off with the caller. She is hesitant to answer questions.’
The wife also allegedly admitted her husband, who retired in 1995, had a $10,000 life insurance policy, with her listed as the sole beneficiary.
Evelyn Zigerelli-Henderson, 66, stands accused of criminal homicide, aggravated arson, and arson, following cops’ grisly discovery at the couple’s house Thursday, in the Pennsylvania suburb of Susquehanna, 40 miles north of Scranton
Cops said that when they came across the badly burned body of 84-year-old Carmen Henderson (pictured in this undated photo) at around 5am, fly larvae found in the ex Dauphin County chief deputy sheriff’s nose and mouth indicated he had been dead longer than his wife had told officers, causing them to become suspicious and eventually arrest the widow
Cops said it was not immediately clear when the former officer died, and have yet to release a cause of death.
Officers arrived at the home, located on 306 Stuart Place, to find Henderson, severely burned and nude on the couple’s back patio, police wrote in Zigerelli-Henderson’s warrant.
Police soon came to suspect Zigerelli-Henderson, however, after her story about her finding her husband’s burned body began to change as she was questioned by investigators.
Initially, she claimed it was a suicide, cops said – but as she was was prodded further, the woman allegedly shifted her story to say her husband had accidentally set himself alight while smoking a cigar on the porch.
That assertion came after officers caught Zigerelli-Henderson in what appeared to be a lie, after she told dispatchers during the 911 call that she heard her husband scream around 1:00 am.
Zigerelli-Henderson, a former local politician who worked as the court clerk for nearby Beaver County and in the state auditor general’s office in 80s, could not explain to officers why she waited four hours to call 911, cops wrote in the complaint.
According to cops, the widow allegedly ‘eventually settled’ on a story that saw her assert she saw her husband sitting in a folding camp chair with a lower pant leg on fire while screaming her name for help around 1am, spurring her to call 911.
However, in this account of the events that led to the former cop’s death, the defendant allegedly picked up the phone to dial 911 but, inexplicably, decided against making the call.
Police reportedly said the woman could not offer an explanation as to why she elected not to call when she saw that her husband was on fire.
Officers arrived at the home, located on 306 Stuart Place, to find Henderson, severely burned and nude on the couple’s back patio, police wrote in Zigerelli-Henderson’s warrant
Investigators also reportedly discerned during their questioning of the suspect that she possessed a financial motive for the alleged murder, with the two allegedly deeply in debt – to the tune of roughly $40,000.
That debt, Zigerelli-Henderson allegedly told police, was largely her fault, police said, with her admitting to spending all of the couple’s money on a combination of lavish vacation homes, day spas, and other and other ‘self-indulgent activities.’
She also admitted that she ran their shared business, Henderson Limousine Service, into the ground, costing the couple even more money.
The debt, cops said, stemmed from a second mortgage the pair had put on their home as well back taxes.
Cops wrote in Zigerelli-Henderson’s arrest warrant that the pair had accepted that their home was going to be seized due to the debt, and that Henderson was planning to live with his children from another marriage.
‘E. Henderson stated that she knew she would be homeless shortly,’ the criminal complaint obtained by Lancaster NBC affiliate WGAL alleges.
‘E. Henderson said that C. Henderson would live with his children from another marriage. E. Henderson stated she was not welcome to live with the children.’
Zigerelli-Henderson, pictured here decades ago in the undated photo, was a self proclaimed ‘powerful political name in western Pennsylvania,’ holding clerk of court positions in nearby counties during the 80s, and unsuccessfully running for office four times in the 2010s
According to PennLive, the pair reportedly married 30 years ago, and had been prominent figures in their local community since.
Aside from her stints as a politician from 1983 to 1988, Zigerelli-Henderson ran, unsuccessfully, for Dauphin County clerk of courts in 2011, the Susquehanna Township School Board in 2014, Dauphin County sheriff in 2015, and prothonotary in 2017.
‘Zigerelli is a powerful political name in western Pennsylvania,’ she told PennLive in 2011. ‘Everybody knows me in Beaver County.’
Henderson, meanwhile, served the Dauphin County police department for decades before retiring in 1995 at the age of 57, after meeting Zigerelli-Henderson shortly before.
The 66-year-old suspect is now facing charges of criminal homicide, aggravated arson, and arson resulting in danger of death or bodily injury due to the inconsistencies in her story.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 23.