LAKELAND, Fla. – A 36-year-old man has been arrested in the deaths of a former Lakeland city commissioner and her husband during an attempted robbery at their home, police said.
Marcelle Waldon was arrested Wednesday night and charged with 10 felonies, including first-degree murder in the Tuesday morning deaths of David Henderson, 63, and Edith Yates Henderson, 67. She served as a Lakeland city commissioner from 2006 until the beginning of 2018.
Police went to the home on Tuesday after being called by a man who had been trying to reach his mother by text message all day, Sam Taylor, chief of detectives, said during a news conference on Thursday morning.
The son went inside the home, but backed out and called police after seeing it was in disarray, Taylor said. Police found the Hendersons' bodies in an “absolutely horrific" scene in an upstairs bedroom. Both victims were stabbed, he added.
Investigators believe David Henderson went out Tuesday morning to pick up breakfast. When he returned home, he apparently set the table, with the food still in bags, and went upstairs to find his wife.
“We believe he came home after buying breakfast and his wife had already been killed upstairs," Taylor said.
“A struggle ensued between those two," and Henderson was then killed, Taylor said.
Investigators believe Waldon turned on all the burners of the gas stove in the kitchen in an effort to set the home on fire, Taylor said. They believe he took one of the couple's cars, which was later found burned in Lakeland.
A tip received by investigators led them to Waldon on Wednesday night. He was arrested after being questioned by authorities at the police station. The tipster had seen Waldon with jewelry and personal items taken from the home, Taylor said.
Taylor said investigators have not found any link so far between the Hendersons and Waldon. He said the current theory is that it was an attempted robbery and random act of violence.
“I’ve been doing this almost 32 years and I can count on one hand the number of times that the victim has no relationship, or we can find no nexus between the victim and the suspect," Taylor said. “This was an unfortunate set of circumstances that he picked that house. It’s a very rare act."
Waldon has a history of domestic violence, burglaries, trespassing, resisting arrest and driving charges, Taylor said. He had been released from prison in 2019 after serving time on burglary charges. A lawyer for Waldon wasn't listed on jail records.
The Hendersons had been married since 2012.