An Alabama woman will spend life behind bars for helping her bigamist husband brutally murder five people, including his estranged wife and unborn child.
According to People magazine, 48-year-old Rhonda Carlson plead guilty for the murder on Wednesday, more than six years after she and her husband, Christopher Henderson, killed a pregnant Kristin Smallwood Henderson; her mother, Jean Smallwood; her 8-year-old son, Clayton Daniel Chambers; and her 1-year-old nephew, Eli Sokolowski.
Christopher, who was sentenced to death earlier this month, had reportedly left Rhonda for Carlson without filing for divorce. Once his relationship with Kristin went south, he allegedly reconnected with Rhonda and devised a plan to murder his second wife.
“[Rhonda] was assuming the two would resume their marriage, but Kristin was pregnant – only a few weeks from delivery, and he was tied up with the divorce and possibly having to pay child support,” Madison County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tim Gann told the magazine. “I think this was an easy fix for them just to kill everybody. They kind of thought they would walk away. It was as bad as you could ever imagine. It is really unspeakable.”
On Aug. 5, 2015, the convicted couple went to the home of Christopher’s father-in-law just as Kristen left to retrieve Clayton from school. Rhonda allegedly served as the “look out” while her husband entered the residence and killed Kristen’s mother and nephew. Once Kristen and Clayton returned, Christopher killed the 8-year-old and attacked his estranged wife in the garage – stabbing her multiple times before he cut her “baby out of her womb and stabbed it.”
Security video showed Rhonda leaving the home after the attack and then returning shortly afterwards with a can of gas. Christopher then allegedly poured the gasoline around the house, before setting it on fire.
Rhonda avoided the death penalty by agreeing to testify against her husband. She is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
“I think [Rhonda] really loved this man, and I think she was manipulated by him and put a lot of her trust in him,” said Rhonda’s attorney, Erin Atkins. “Our opinion is she was easily manipulated and influenced by him. Over time, she came to grips with what happened and admitted to her role.”