Son ‘bludgeons to death wealthy violinist mother, 68, after running down father, 71, in BMW his ‘kind, gentle’ parents bought him
- Edy, 68, and Joseph Henderson, 71, were found dead at their two-story home in an upscale California neighborhood at around 5 p.m. on Sunday
- At 7:50 p.m., after a three-hour manhunt, James Henderson, 39, was found laying on the ground near a neighbor’s horse corral and arrested
By Helen Pow
A beloved violinist who performed for years with a California orchestra was bludgeoned to death by her troubled son on Sunday, just moments after he ran over his 71-year-old father with the BMW the couple had bought him.
Described by stunned friends as ‘the sweetest people,’ Edy, 68, and Joseph Henderson were found dead at their two-story home in an upscale Aptos neighborhood at around 5 p.m. Edy had called 911 minutes earlier – after her husband was first struck by the car. But when deputies arrived, they found Joseph dead on the front lawn and the woman lifeless inside.
At around 7:50 p.m., after a three-hour manhunt, James Henderson, 39, was found laying on the ground near a neighbor’s horse corral and arrested in connection with the horrific double homicide.
He remains in Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.
‘They were the kindest, gentlest, sweetest people,’ friend Roger Pase told the Santa Cruz Sentinel of the Hendersons. ‘You couldn’t want more for neighbors.’
Edy was a retired software developer who also acted as the vice president of artistic advisory for the Santa Cruz County Symphony Orchestra.
Her friend, Marian Langdon, described her as a splendid person, friendly neighbor, and talented musician. A cancer survivor, she was very active in fundraising for the disease and for the past few years had led ‘Relay For Life‘ – the area’s main cancer charity.
Edy and Joseph enjoyed traveling the world absorbing the sights and sounds of other cultures.
Pictures on Facebook show Edy in front of ancient Grecian ruins. The couple also loved gardening.
But, according to neighbors, they struggled with their son, who suffered from a mental illness and had an outstanding arrest warrant when deputies tracked him down on Sunday.
James Henderson’s parents did everything they could for him, particularly offering to help him financially.
According to neighbors, they bought him a BMW and a condo nearby in Aptos. But his bizarre behavior saw him thrown out of the property and he is now homeless, deputies said.
‘He’s mentally ill, he should have been in a mental institution,’ Doreen Parraz told KSBW.com. ‘He’s been in and out of prison all of his life. His rap sheet is over 500 feet long. Since he was a child he was in trouble but no one ever thought he’d do this.’
The couple had lived on the 100 block of Ridge View Drive for about 11 years.
Residents of the quiet street said they saw James Henderson’s car on his parent’s property on Sunday morning. After the slaying, the suspect fled on foot.
Deputies surrounded the rich neighborhood, where properties are at least two acres or larger, and went door to door describing the suspect, who is about 5 feet 11 and weighs 220 pounds.
The victims’ neighbors were told to remain inside their homes during the manhunt, as the sheriff’s department believed Henderson was armed and dangerous.
The 39-year-old was finally found out the back of Roger Pase’s property. The neighbor and friend of the Hendersons let deputies search his home and walked them out to a short cut leading from his place to the slayed couple’s.
It was there, the suspect was found laying with his eyes closed on the ground next to the horse corral, where two horses were making noise.
He was arrested and led away.
‘It was really spooky to find out this guy was on our grounds’ Pase told the Sentinel.
Deputies are trying to determine a motive in the gruesome slaying they called a ‘horrific situation.’
A long time friend of Joseph’s, Sam Parraz, told KSBW.com in a raspy voice that the 71-year-old was not only his best friend for 50 years but ‘the best man I ever knew.’
‘It makes me doubt in the Lord that he chose him to come join him,’ the elderly man said.