Former City Commissioner Edie Yates Henderson and her husband, David Henderson, were brutally stabbed to death in their Lake Morton home Tuesday morning by an apparently random intruder, Lakeland police said today in announcing an arrest.
Marcelle Waldon, 36, of Lakeland, was arrested Wednesday night and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, robbery with a weapon, arson and six other crimes.
Police have not been able to establish any ties between the alleged attacker and his victims, a circumstance Assistant Police Chief Sam Taylor described as “extremely rare” during a news conference this morning.
“I’ve been doing this almost 32 years and I can count on one hand the number of times the victim has had no relationship or we could find no nexus between the victim and the suspect so it’s extremely rare for something like this to occur,” he said.
Police believe Waldon entered the three-story house at 127 Lake Morton Drive through a door left unlocked Tuesday morning when David Henderson, 63, left for a short trip to Fat Jack’s to pick up take-out breakfasts for himself and his wife.
Edie Henderson, 67, had likely already been killed in the master bedroom by the time David returned home and placed a bag with unopened Styrofoam breakfast containers on a table set for two, Taylor said.
“When he couldn’t raise her, we think he probably went upstairs to find out what was going on not knowing obviously what had occurred,” Taylor said. “The killer was still up there, and a struggle ensued between those two and he ended up being killed subsequently as well.”
Video of the news conference:
Before killing Edie Henderson, the intruder apparently forced her to sign two checks for $5,000, according to the arrest affidavit. The house was ransacked and several items were taken, including jewelry, cellphones and David’s white 2016 Audi A6, Taylor said.
After his arrest on Wednesday night, Waldron admitted to police that he had been in the 100 block of Lake Morton Drive on Tuesday and that he had received the car and stolen property and tried to cash a check and use stolen credit cards, but denied he had been inside the house, according to the arrest affidavit.
The bodies were not discovered until Tuesday evening after Edie Henderson’s son, Todd Baylis, became concerned that his mother had not answered his texts and had missed an appointment.
Baylis entered the house and called police when he saw that the rooms were in disarray, breakfast was still on the table and that the gas burners on the stove and oven were turned on in what Taylor described as the intruder’s attempt to burn down the house and destroy evidence.
Baylis was advised to leave the house and await police. When they entered, they encountered an “absolutely horrific” crime scene, Taylor said.
Investigators have worked nonstop since then and continue pursuing leads, Taylor said. Two key elements were hearing from an acquaintance of Waldon’s who was able to describe some of the stolen items and finding David Henderson’s stolen Audi, which had been set afire, in a field off Oregon Avenue near the Southwest Sports Complex, Taylor said.
Waldron was arrested at the Relax Inn on Lakeland Hills Boulevard, Taylor said. He has a lengthy criminal record and was released from state prison in August 2019 after being sentenced to three years for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.
He is being held without bond in the Polk County Jail.
Yates was a member of the Lakeland City Commission from 2006 to 2018, serving three terms, the maximum allowed. A certified public accountant and financial planner, she was managing partner at Baylis & Co. accounting firm.
Henderson, 64, was a lawyer-turned-commercial developer via his company, Henderson Properties.
She and Henderson were last in the news in August after they and three other investors purchased the iconic Terrace Hotel overlooking Lake Mirror for $7.25 million. They also own two hotels in Plant City.
At the end of today’s news conference, Taylor read a message from three Henderson family members, Todd and Sarah Baylis and Will Henderson:
We wish to thank everyone at the Lakeland Police Department, detectives, and everyone who has helped us over the past few days to understand this tragic event. Your diligence and continued effort in bringing those responsible to justice is deeply appreciated. We are comforted to know that a suspect has been apprehended, but nothing can truly compensate for the loss to our family and our community.
We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers from family, friends, and the entire community. We truly feel the love and support, and we are forever grateful for that support and respect for privacy during this time.
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