Meanwhile, Henderson had phoned a female acquaintance and tricked her into giving him a ride. The 24-year-old woman showed up in her 1997 Toyota Corolla, her two-year-old son strapped into the child seat behind her. After a while, police retrieved the cell phone number of the duped driver. She and Henderson were traveling east, headed out of San Diego County. At some point after this, Henderson took the cell phones apart.
The next morning, Henderson let his frightened friend drive away. Police were able to obtain information from her that allowed them to trace his escape path along Highway 8 and out into the desert. They learned that Henderson had bought a bus ticket in El Centro. It appeared that he was bound for Lexington, Kentucky, where a former girlfriend lived.
The Greyhound bus had a scheduled layover in St. Louis, so Oceanside police contacted Missouri lawmen. St. Louis Metro Police agreed to arrest the fugitive. They wore plainclothes and stood around the bus station as if they were passengers. When the policemen saw Henderson walking toward his bus, they came up from behind him and pinned his arms.
Henderson was arrested in St. Louis on January 4, three days after his wife had been found dead. Police took a loaded .40 caliber handgun from the camera bag that Henderson carried. The gun’s safety was off, and the hammer was pulled back, and there was one round in the chamber.
Detective David Rudolph made an accounting of the ammunition: the magazine clip for the Taurus semi-automatic could hold ten rounds; there was one round in the chamber, seven more stacked in the clip. One unexpended .40 caliber round had been found on the bedroom floor near where Tamara lay on her bed. The last bullet was found in Tamara’s spine.
Detective Rudolph said they found another clip of ammunition for the same handgun, plus additional, boxed ammunition.
San Diego law enforcement requested that St. Louis police not question the fugitive; Oceanside detectives should do it. But Henderson wanted to talk right away. It seemed he wanted to explain things, and he made spontaneous comments. Detective Rudolph took notes.
Henderson told the Missouri lawmen that he knew he was being arrested for shooting his wife in California. He described a heated argument with Tamara and said he’d pointed a gun at her. He claimed he pulled the trigger once and heard a “click.” Then he told her, “Bitch, if that had went bang, you wouldn’t be talking all that shit.” Then he racked the gun and pointed it at her again and shot her.
Henderson was sorry he’d shot his wife. He said he spoke to her as she lay there wounded and that she seemed strong. He said he’d expected more blood. He said he’d phoned for help and claimed that he met paramedics outside the apartment — a claim emergency responders refuted.
Henderson blabbed that he planned to travel around the United States, to visit some of the six children he had fathered, spread across four states, before fleeing to Honduras. He expected to live in Central America on cash for a while. Eventually, he planned to return to the United States with a “clean passport.”
Henderson had loaded up on cash before he left San Diego County. When his deceived driver picked him up, Henderson directed her to take him to various ATM machines, where he used Tamara’s credit cards to extract as much cash as possible.
Twenty-five-year-old Tamara Henderson was found lying on her back on her bed with a gunshot entry wound in her chest. The expended casing for the fatal shot was never recovered. Henderson later admitted he’d picked up that casing and put it in his pocket. He said it must have fallen out somewhere along his escape route.
Henderson was held in lieu of $10 million bail.
The Crazy Plea
Henderson made a startling change of appearance when he appeared in court for a hearing in August 2011. His hair had grown long, there were fresh scratch marks around his neck, and a bandage placed on his forehead.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe said the defendant had made “superficial” wounds on himself in an attempt to delay criminal proceedings. But Superior court judge K. Michael Kirkman heard evidence that day anyway. The judge ordered Henderson to face trial on first-degree murder charges.
Two months later, Henderson entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. That was on October 18. But a week later, his public defender withdrew the insanity plea, and they reverted to a not-guilty plea.
Jury selection began in January 2012. One year had passed since Tamara’s death. Henderson assisted in choosing his own jury. Prospective jurors got a good look at Henderson’s “wild man” hair, which was longer than ever. He sat at the defense table and whispered to his attorney while jurors were questioned and accepted or dismissed. Henderson had added wire-rimmed glasses and a dress shirt and tie to his look.
The prosecutor told the jury that Henderson had nude photos from a former girlfriend texted to his cell phone on December 28, 2010, just four days before the shooting. Less than four hours after the shooting, Henderson texted to this same woman: “I left my wife for good.” This woman was a former girlfriend who lived in Alabama.
Prosecutor Watanabe also suggested that Henderson may have been trying to stage a suicide scene around his dying wife: Henderson had posed his wife on the bed and put a framed photo of the couple into her hands.
Plans went awry when Henderson could not find the keys to his car. The apartment was in such a shambles when emergency personnel got there, police later asked Henderson why his apartment looked as if it had been ransacked. He told them he’d thrown around the couch cushions and upset the furniture and everything else while searching for his car keys. He claimed that he’d initially planned to drive his wife to the hospital himself. But he never did find the keys.