On this episode of I Am Homicide, Detective Garry McFadden investigates a woman’s death in a fire that turns out to be rape and murder.
August 30, 1995, in Charlotte, NC, and Detective Garry McFadden got an early morning call to a the scene of an apartment fire. Neighbors had spotted smoke coming from the building and called fire department, who discovered the a woman inside.
The woman was in the bedroom and lying on the bed in her nightdress, she seemed to have made no attempt to flee the fire but was still alive and rushed to hospital.
The fire marshal explained to McFadden that the fire had been started near the bed but that no accelerant had been used. This made them think it might have been an accident, say a candle or something.
However, when the detective discovered her car was missing, his suspicions were raised. Further investigation also found that all the electrical devices in the apartment had been unplugged.
The woman was identified as 34-year-old Henrietta Myers, who’d only recently moved to Charlotte from South Carolina. She was working as a nurse’s aid and volunteered as rape victim councillor.
As McFadden was searching the scene a call came through to say that Henrietta had died without regaining consciousness. The autopsy reveals the cause of death was strangulation and the homicide investigation begins.
The police put out a media appeal for any information and Henrietta’s co-worker, Theresa Thompson, calls in and tell the detective that Henrietta had recently been dating a neighbor, who might have been taking advantage of her. She also said the man’s name was Wallace and that he sometimes got a little crazy, especially after a drink.
Phone records lead to another friend, who confirmed wild relationship Hensley and detective McFadden goes to track him down. The search leads to a local man who is said to know everyone in the area, Reginald Brodnax. He had a record but seemed to have turned his life around and was working in construction. He admitted to knowing Henrietta but denied having any sort of relationship with her, he was also helpful and gave the detectives some information about Wallace.
However, it later turned out that Brodnax had visited Henrietta the night of her death and he was arrested. The story he told was of a fight and an accident but he was charged with murder, with McFadden believing the pair had spent the evening together and then Henrietta had asked him to leave. He’d then used some pretext to return and then raped and strangled her to death, before setting the fire to cover his tracks.
In 1996 Brodnax was found guilty of second-degree murder and is currently on parole.
I Am Homicide – Philadelphia Freedom airs at 12:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.