Man sentenced to death for killing wife, baby and three relatives

Alabama bigamist is sentenced to death for killing pregnant second wife, cutting full-term fetus from her body and stabbing it, and murdering her son, 8, nephew, 1, as well as his mom-in-law who was knifed in her EYES

  • Christopher Henderson, 46, was convicted of 15 counts of capital murder and received the death penalty following the jury’s 11-1 vote
  • In 2015 Henderson either stabbed or shot five victims to death at their home in New Market, Alabama, and then set the house ablaze
  • He shot his second wife Kristin Smallwood Henderson, who was nine months pregnant, in the neck and stabbed her several times 
  • He then cut the full-term fetus from her body and stabbed his unborn daughter 
  • Kristin’s mother Carol Jean Smallwood was shot and stabbed in the eyes
  • Her nephew, one-year-old Eli was stabbed many times, too, but his cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the autopsies 
  • Kristin’s eight-year-old son Clayton Chambers, whose father was not Henderson, was also stabbed. He was still alive when Henderson set the house on fire
  • Henderson committed the murders with the help of his first wife Rhonda Carlson, 48, who testified against him to avoid the death penalty in her own trial
  • The killer was still married to Carlson when he wed Kristin in September 2014
  • In July 2015 Henderson filed for divorce and Kristin filed for a protection order against Henderson later that month. She was killed less than a week later 

An Alabama bigamist convicted of murdering his estranged wife, her unborn baby, two children and his spouse’s mother in law was sentenced to death on Thursday.

Christopher Henderson, 46, was convicted of 15 counts of capital murder and received the death penalty by Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer following the jury’s 11-1 vote.  

In 2015 Henderson either stabbed or shot five victims to death at their home in New Market, Alabama, and then set the house ablaze. He is said to have done so after Henderson filed for divorce on finding out he was still married to his first wife Rhonda Carlson, 48, who helped plot the horrific bloodbath. 

Autopsy reports revealed that Henderson shot his second wife Kristin Smallwood Henderson, who was nine months pregnant with the couple’s unborn daughter, in the neck and stabbed her several times. 

Christopher Henderson (pictured), 46, was convicted of 15 counts of capital murder and received the death penalty following the jury’s 11-1 vote. In 2015 he murdered his pregnant wife and four of her relatives in their Alabama home and then set the house ablaze

The jury of 12 deliberated for a total of 14 hours over two days until they reached Henderson’s guilty verdict

He then cut the full-term female fetus from her body and stabbed it. Dr Steven Dunton with the Alabama Department of Forensic Services said the autopsy showed the fetus had multiple sharp-force injuries.

According to Inside Edition, Kristin’s mother Carol Jean Smallwood was shot several times and stabbed in the eyes.

Kristin’s eight-year-old son Clayton Chambers, whose father was not Henderson, was also stabbed. A medical examiner testified this week that Clayton was still alive when Henderson poured gasoline throughout the house and set it on fire. He died in the ensuing blaze. 

Kristin’s nephew, one-year-old Eli was stabbed many times, too, but his cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the autopsies. 

Henderson committed the murders with the help of his first wife Rhonda Carlson, 48, who testified against her lover to avoid the death penalty in her own capital murder trial, Inside Edition reported.

Autopsy reports revealed that Henderson shot his pregnant second wife Kristin Smallwood Henderson (left) in the neck and stabbed her several times. Kristin’s eight-year-old son Clayton Chambers (right), whose father was not Henderson, was also stabbed and a medical examiner testified the boy was still alive when Henderson set the house ablaze

In a twisted sequence of events Henderson then cut the full-term fetus (pictured in ultrasound) from Kristin’s body and stabbed his unborn daughter

Henderson’s first wife Rhonda Carlson said that when plotting the crime, she initially discussed keeping Kristin’s (left with Henderson) baby but she didn’t want to be a mother again

Carlson admitted to helping plan the killings but denied participating in the slayings. 

Carlson said that she and Henderson initially discussed keeping Kristin’s baby but she decided she did not want to be a mother again. Carlson and Henderson have a daughter together.

Henderson committed the murders with the help of his first wife Rhonda Carlson (pictured), 48, who testified against her lover to avoid the death penalty in her own capital murder trial

Henderson agreed, saying the baby ‘would just end up whining like her mom’. Carlson will be sentenced to life in prison.    

The jury of 12 deliberated for a total of 14 hours over two days until they reached Henderson’s guilty verdict on all 15 capital murder charges. 

Henderson has been held without bond until today’s hearing. 

The judge also had the choice to sentence the killer to life in prison without parole, because Henderson was charged for the crime before lawmakers took away the option for judges to override the sentencing recommendation of jurors in capital cases. 

Speaking in court Henderson addressed the victims’ relatives and his own and said: ‘I’d like to give my deepest apologies to the family. 

‘This is an event that should’ve never happened. I’d also like to apologize to my mom and my daughter.’

Judge Comer said: ‘Mr Henderson…may God have mercy on your soul. May God provide peace to the families of this tragedy.’

Kristin’s sister Kelly Smallwood Sokolowski told the judge about the loss of her family members and only child, Eli. She said: ‘My daddy passed away in September of last year and I had a dream and my daddy was holding Eli in that dream. I know that I will see them again.’

Kristin’s brother Keith Smallwood said the victims were good people. ‘These were people that were happy to be alive and part of a strong family that we all loved each other, so it’s been hard. 

‘But…we’ve been resolute because we know where they are and we know they’re smiling.’

Earlier in the trial Keith testified that Henderson, Kristin and Clayton moved back to Alabama from Michigan and into Kristin’s parents’ home on St Clair Lane. They lived there for several months but had relationship issues.

According to News 19 Henderson was kicked out of the house in June 2015 and the family changed the locks. In July 2015 Henderson filed for divorce and Kristin filed for a protection order against Henderson later that month.

On July 31 she filed another notice to the court saying a divorce wasn’t necessary, according to court documents. Kristin had found out that her supposed husband was still married to Carlson, and petitioned the court to withdraw the divorce based on the fact that her husband was still married to his first wife and their marriage wouldn’t be legal. 

Kristin’s siblings Keith Smallwood (left) and Kelly Smallwood Sokolowski (right) testified this week and Kelly spoke on losing her family members and only son, Eli. ‘My daddy passed away in September of last year and I had a dream and my daddy was holding Eli in that dream. I know that I will see them again,’ she said

Henderson and Carlson reportedly wed in February 2013. Henderson then married Kristin in September 2014.

‘He has lied about everything since we met,’ she wrote in the filing. She was granted the order of protection based on her testimony that he had hit her. 

On August 4, 2015 – less than a week after Kristin filed for a court order to keep Henderson away from the residence – the five victims’ bodies were found.  

Henderson had married Kristin without divorcing Carlson. Six years later – on July 15, 2021 – Carlson turned on her husband and made a plea deal with prosecutors to testify against Henderson in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. 

Since the start of the trial defense attorney Bruce Gardner argued that Carlson was the one with the victims’ blood on her hands. 

Although home security footage showed Henderson wearing black gloves at the scene the day of the killings and house fire, Gardner said Carlson was the one who planned the murders and had the motive to do so.

According to News 19 Gardner called prosecutors’ deal with Carlson to testify against Henderson ‘a deal with the devil’.

Before the sentence was final Gardner had also asked the jury to give Henderson mercy, arguing it was not fair to put Henderson to death if Carlson wouldn’t be given the same punishment.  

Henderson and Kristin reportedly had a rocky relationship. He filed for divorce in July 2015 and Kristin filed for a protection order against Henderson later that month before discovering he was still married to Carlson

On August 4, 2015 – less than a week after Kristin filed for a court order to keep Henderson away from the residence – Henderson murdered the five victims and set their house on St Clair Lane (pictured) on fire

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