Southwest States Violent Crime

Woman Allegedly Smothered to Death Her Three Small Children

Woman Allegedly Smothered to Death Her Three Small Children

Woman Allegedly Smothered to Death Her Three Small Children

Woman Allegedly Smothered to Death Her Three Small Children

The great-aunt of the three young children who police say were smothered to death by their mother in Phoenix this week says she was in the house at the time but had no idea what was happening until it was too late.

Pearl Rebolledo Velazco spoke through sobs at a candlelight vigil held on Wednesday night outside the home where 22-year-old Rachel Henry allegedly killed her children, three-year-old son Zane Henry, one-year-old daughter, Miraya Henry, and seven-month-old daughter Catalaya Rios.

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Velazco said she and Catalaya’s father, Pedro Rios, were in the house when Henry allegedly suffocated them one by one Monday night.

It was previously reported that the two older children fought back by kicking, scratching and punching their mother.

‘I know it’s hard to believe, but we were here throughout [the house] as she killed our kids,’ Velazco tearfully recounted. ‘We had no reason to think otherwise that she was putting them down for naps.

Velazco said she was completely unaware of what was going on in the next room.

‘I should have taken three steps into the room,’ she said during the memorial first reported on by Fox 10. ‘I can’t change it now. I can’t change it now. And that’s killing me.’

Velazco described how she tried to administer CPR to the baby while urging Henry to call 911. But Henry was ‘sitting by me, staring at her phone,’ Velazco said.

Velazco ended up calling authorities and summoning them to her home.

‘They were just kids, they were babies, they were innocent,’ Velazco said of her slain great-nephews while showing their photos on her phone during the emotional vigil, which was attended by friends and strangers alike.

According to the aunt, she was caring for all three children temporarily. Henry moved to Arizona from Oklahoma in June to be closer to them.

‘She missed them. She was on the street, and she wanted to straighten up and everything. She could’ve walked away at any time,’ Velazco said.

The great-aunt has launched a GoFundMe page to help her send the children back to Oklahoma for burial.

Henry remains jailed on a $3 million bond on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder. Her next court date is scheduled for January 31.

She allegedly told police that she started with her one-year-old daughter by holding her hands over the girl’s nose and mouth until she stopped moving.

Miraya, who would have turned two this month, was initially kicking out at her mother while she was being smothered.

Her three-year-old brother, Zane, was screaming ‘no’ as he watched his little sister die and repeatedly tried to punch his mother to no avail.

Henry told police that she left Miraya’s body at the back of the house and chased her son around until Velazco and Pedro Rios – came in.

She caught Zane and took him upstairs on the pretense of putting him to bed as the relatives sat in the living room.

Investigators say the boy pinched and scratched his mother but was unable to save himself.

She then went to find her seven-month-old Catalaya, gave her a bottle to feed on until she fell asleep, then smothered her as well, authorities say.

Henry said she sang lullabies to all three children while they were dying.

She then propped all three bodies on the couch ‘as if they were sleeping’.

Police were called to the property sometime later to reports of unspecified ‘trouble’.

Authorities offered no possible motive for the killings but court records cited one of the other adults in the house as having told police that Henry ‘had a methamphetamine addiction and had been acting strange the past several days’.

It was also reported earlier on Tuesday that the children had previously been removed from their family home because Henry’s alleged addiction.

Henry recounted smothering the three-year-old next, straddling him on the floor of a bedroom as she sang to the child +11
Authorities said she then fed her seven-month-old daughter a bottle before smothering her, again while singing to the infant

Henry recounted smothered her three-year-old, straddling him on the floor of a bedroom as she sang to the child

A representative from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said late Tuesday that Henry apparently admitted to having a history of addiction to methamphetamine and that her children were previously removed from her care, according to AZ Central.

Authorities said the alleged drug abuse likely occurred in Oklahoma because the Arizona Department of Child Safety said it had no previous contacts with Henry.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which provides child protective services, declined to say whether it had a method for informing other states about parents who had run into trouble with child-welfare authorities.

The agency said it’s cooperating with investigators in Arizona and is reviewing any contacts Henry or her children had with child-welfare authorities there. But the agency said state law prohibits the public release of the results of that inquiry.

Video shot by AZ Family showed Henry dressed in a white Hazmat suit with her hands restrained behind her back, being brought to the 4th Avenue Jail, where she is being held without bond.

Henry said nothing in response to questions from reporters asking her to address her children’s deaths.

Those who knew Henry while she lived in the town of Prague, Oklahoma, said she was a pleasant woman who they trusted to look after their own children.

Anthony Repsher, whose wife Tiffani Hardy features in photos with Henry, said he had known her for around six years.

Speaking to Fox10, he said Henry would be the last person he would suspect of harming her own children.

‘As a matter of fact, she’d even babysit my children. I’ve never noticed any kind of depression or anger or hostility towards children or anyone else.’

Henry initially claimed an illness may have been a factor because the youngsters had been sick earlier in the night.

According to reports, officers first received an ‘unknown trouble call’ from one of the parents and when police arrived at the home, they were greeted by three adults.

Sgt Fortune described the scene that first responders found as ‘very difficult’.

First responders who tried to save the children’s lives were sent home early after the traumatic event.

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