The Washington Post

Georgia man indicted in 1987 fatal stabbing of estranged wife in D.C.

A man whose conviction in the 1987 fatal stabbing of his estranged wife was overturned years ago has been indicted anew and ordered back to Washington from his home in Georgia.

Michael Henderson, 52, is scheduled to appear in a Georgia court on Tuesday as part of the extradition process to return him to the District, local authorities said. He was re-indicted by a D.C. grand jury last month in the June 1987 stabbing of his estranged wife, Cheryl, after prosecutors uncovered new DNA evidence, according to investigators.

Henderson, who remarried, moved to Rockdale County, Ga., near Atlanta, in 2010. He was arrested last week by U.S. marshals at the electronics manufacturing facility where he worked, Rockdale officials said.

According to court records, Cheryl Henderson’s body was found in high weeds in the 3000 block of Q Street SE. She was stabbed more than 30 times.

At the time, there was no direct evidence linking Michael Henderson to her death. But in 1991, a D.C. Superior Court jury convicted him of murder.

Two years later, Henderson’s conviction was reversed after the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled the prosecutor made an error during the trial. Prosecutors at the time decided not to try Henderson a second time and dismissed the case while they looked for additional evidence. Henderson, a native of Montross, Va., was released from prison.

In recent years, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines, said they located new DNA evidence linking Henderson to the killing and sought an indictment for second-degree murder.

Cheryl Henderson, who was 21 at the time of her death, was found by a 10-year-old girl walking up a hill to church for Bible study. Henderson worked as a cleaner at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building across from the White House. During the trial, Cheryl Henderson’s mother testified that her son-in-law repeatedly warned her that she should take out a life insurance policy on her daughter, saying she might wind up dead in an alley in Washington.

Michael Camp, a spokesman for the Rockdale Sheriff’s Office, said that Henderson had begun a new life since relocating to Georgia and that his employer described him as a “good employee” who “kept his head down.”

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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