The Arizona mother who told police she sang lullabies to hide her children's screams from family members while she smothered them will be facing the death penalty if found guilty at her upcoming murder trial. Rachel Henry, 22, would become just the fourth woman put on death row in Arizona and the 58th in the country if convicted by a jury.
The request to make this a capital punishment case came from Maricopa County attorney Christopher Sammons back in October. The trial is set to get underway in September, almost two years after the murders of Mireya, Zane and Catalaya — a crime that Henry confessed to, according to police. She has since entered a not guilty plea.
The first officer on the scene wrote in their report that Rachel claimed she had first murdered daughter Mireya, who was just days shy of her second birthday. Rachel was then preparing to suffocate her 3-year-old son Zane when the children's father, Pedro, returned home from work with his aunt, Pearl. Pearl had temporary custody of the children at the time of the murders but was allowing Pedro and Rachel to live with her and the children. Pearl, who opened her home up to Pedro and Rachel in their time of need, told police that she left at around 2 p.m. on the day of the murders to pick up her nephew from work. She returned home an hour later and did not notice anything out of the ordinary.
Rachel had allegedly stashed Mireya's lifeless body in a closet by then, having suffocated her while fighting off the girl's brother. Zane hit his mother repeatedly and pleaded with her to stop, according to the police report. He was no match for his mother. Rachel told police that she knew Mireya was dead when her legs stopped moving, at which time she turned her attention to Zane.
The young boy almost managed to avoid the fate of his sister when his father suddenly arrived home, according to police. Zane then spent some time playing with his father, said police, before Rachel took him in the back bedroom under the guise of changing his underwear.
"As Rachel did so, she placed the three-year-old on the floor of the bedroom, straddled him with one of her legs, and placed her hand over his nose and mouth," reads the report. Rachel then told the officer that she sang to Zane and "placed her hand over his nose/mouth" while he was "scratching her chest and pinching her." This all happened while both Pedro and Pearl were just feet away in the next room. Rachel told police she used a similar tactic to kill her final victim, seven-month-old Catalaya.
The bodies of the three children were then placed on the couch in the living room and made to look as though they were sleeping, according to the police report. It was not until four hours after that final murder that 911 was called and firefighters arrived on the scene to administer CPR. It was Rachel who actually called 911 at the behest of Pearl.
The children's temporary guardian panicked when she discovered the children were not breathing, and immediately began to perform CPR. It was too late by then, however, and all three were pronounced dead on the scene. Rachel was booked into jail and in her first appearance in front of the judge complained about her bail being set at $3 million. "How will I be able to get any money?" asked Rachel. "I don’t have a job or anything."
Prosecutors referenced her past custody issues and drug addiction during that appearance. The prosecuting attorney told the judge that Rachel's "kids had previously been removed from her home by DCS related to her drug addiction."
Rachel is charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and is not due back in court until February ahead of her September trial.