Sheriff: Mother killed her family for insurance money

Published: Oct. 25, 2011 at 6:16 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2011 at 6:18 PM EDT
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Susan Hendricks (Source: WYFF)
Susan Hendricks (Source: WYFF)
The murder scene (Source: WYFF)
The murder scene (Source: WYFF)
PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (WYFF) - Ten days after four members of a family were found gunned down, the mother of two of the victims has been charged, and investigators said Tuesday that life insurance was the motive.
Susan Hendricks, 48, has been charged in the death of her sons, Marshall Wayne Hendricks, 20, and Matthew Wayne Hendricks, 23, her ex-husband, Mark Wayne Hendricks, 52, and her stepmother, Linda Ann Burns, 64.
Solicitor Walt Wilkins, Sheriff C. David Stone and SLED Chief Mark Keel held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce the arrest.
The community was deeply shaken by the quadruple killings.
Pickens County Sheriff David Stone said, "The serenity was broken by a horrendous act of evil."
Immediately after the four deaths, three had been determined to be homicides, but the results of tests and forensics were needed before Matthew Hendricks' death was also determined to be a homicide.
Investigators said Hendricks had tried to make it appear that Matthew killed the others and then himself, but forensics indicated otherwise. The apparent motive was life insurance, Stone said.
Hendricks was taken into custody at a motel in Easley at about 7 p.m. on Monday by sheriff's deputies and a State Law Enforcement Division agent. Hendricks is charged with four counts of murder and four counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Thirteenth Solicitor Walt Wilkins said that Hendricks' statements were inconsistent with forensic and scientific evidence and the .380-caliber gun used in the shootings was owned by Hendricks, Wilkins said.
He also said that there were numerous life insurance policies against the four people who were killed, all naming Hendricks as the beneficiary. Wilkins would not state the value of the life insurance policies, but he said it was a "significant" amount.
Wilkins said the case qualifies as a death penalty case, but a decision has not been made yet as to whether it will be prosecuted that way.
In the incident report released after the shooting, deputies said Hendricks' sister, Evelyn Burns, called 911 after her sister called her to come over to the home because of "an emergency." Burns said when she went into the home she saw Matthew Hendricks' body and called authorities.
The first deputy to arrive found Susan Hendricks, 48, sitting on the floor of the living room speaking to rescue personnel, according to the report. The deputy said Matthew Hendricks was lying in a bed in a back bedroom with an apparent gunshot wound in the head and a handgun was lying on a bedside table beside him.
Linda Burns was dead in a bed in another bedroom.
The report said Susan Hendricks told deputies that she had last spoken to her son, Matthew, around 2 a.m. and that he "was continuously telling her that she was a good mother."
The report said: "(Hendricks) stated her son has been suicidal in the past and has had problems with controlled substances. She stated that she had been at the residence all night and did not hear any gunshots. She stated her son had left her a note on the kitchen counter." The contents of the note found in the home have not been released.
Deputies said they asked Hendricks if her front door was locked, and she told them she always leaves it unlocked.
The report said Burns told deputies that she had other family who lived next door, and asked that they check on their well-being since they hadn't responded to all the commotion.
The bodies of Mark Wayne Hendricks, and his son, Marshall, were found in the other home. One was dead on the porch covered with a blanket, the other was in the home lying on a couch, according to the report.
The funerals of the four victims is planned for Friday.
At a vigil for the Hendricks' family a few days after the deaths, several people carried signs asking for justice for the family. Many people said they didn't believe that Matthew Hendricks had killed the others and himself.
The shooting was not the first at the Hendricks' home. In 2006, Susan Hendricks shot and killed a man she said was an intruder. Investigators determined that the shooting was self defense, and Hendricks was not prosecuted.

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