Mother allegedly confesses to suffocating her three children

Rachel Henry, 22, of Phoenix, Arizona. [Image credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]

On January 20th, at 7:20 pm, officers with the Phoenix Police Department responded to a call of "unknown trouble."


When officers arrived at the residence, they found three unresponsive children that had been placed on the couch in the living area "as if they were taking a nap."


"We didn't have to go looking for the children," Phoenix Police spokeswoman Mercedes Fortune told reporters Tuesday during a press conference.


Responding officers began to administer CPR and when paramedics arrived, they too began to administer first aid.  Their efforts however, were futile and the children were declared to be deceased at the scene.


The children have been identified as 3 year old Zane Henry, 1 year old Miraya Henry, and 7 month old Catalaya Rios.  Miraya would have turned 2 next week.


According to a probable cause statement Henry had a previous drug addiction problem, specifically to methamphetamine, and had been acting "strange the past several days."


The drug problems, coupled with reported domestic violence issues between Henry and her fiance who shares a last name with the youngest child resulted in the elder two children being removed from their custody for a time while they lived in Oklahoma.  Arizona Department of Child Safety has reported that they had no dealings with Henry or her family since they moved to the state in June 2019.


By Tuesday morning, Phoenix Police sent out a tweet stating that Henry had been arrested and booked on three counts of first degree murder.  In a Facebook post, they included that Henry had confessed.


The statement says that "Rachel admitted to smothering each child starting with the 1 year old female" before going on to detail how Henry had one by one, after another woman in the home described as an "aunt" left the residence to pick up Henry's fiance from work, suffocated the children.


According to the document, Henry was playing with the 1 year old and wrestling on top of her when she became aware that her breathing had become impaired.  The statement says she "continued to impede her breath by placing her hand over the 1-year-old female's mouth," despite the girl kicking at her and the 3 year old boy yelling at her and hitting her in an attempt to get her to stop.


The document states that she knew the girl was dead "when she stopped kicking."


According to the statement, Henry then began to chase the 3 year old around in an attempt to catch him, but was interrupted by her fiance and the aunt returning home.  Allegedly some time was spent playing with the boy before taking the boy into a back bedroom to change his underpants.  At this time, she is said to have admitted to straddling him with one of her legs and placing her hand over his nose and mouth.


The document says that the boy scratched at her chest and pinched her in an effort to get her to stop while she reportedly sung to him.


Henry then fed the 7 month old a bottle until she fell asleep and then placed her hand over her nose and mouth as well, singing to her also, until she "became unconscious and died."


Henry made her first appearance in court on Tuesday evening where prosecutors argued that she should be considered a flight risk due to her known drug issues in the past and the fact that she only recently moved to Arizona.  The judge agreed and set her secured bond at $3 million.


Henry is due to appear back in court on January 28th.