October 14, 2011
Liberty, South Carolina
Susan Hendricks (48) kills four members of her family
According to a statement Susan later told police, she unknowingly walked past a trail of blood in the living room to enter the kitchen to make coffee on the morning of October 14. She then noticed a note on the counter, written by her 23-year-old son Matthew Wayne Hendricks. The Associated Press likened the note to a Mother’s Day card in which Matthew thanked his “mama” for raising him and praising her for being a good mother. The letter ended with, “I don’t really know what else to say, but I know we have our differences, but I will always love you unconditionally.” Susan found Matthew’s body soon after. He was in his bed, covered by a sheet, and dead from a gunshot wound to his head.
Susan eventually called police to alert them to her son’s death. When asked why she didn’t call emergency services immediately upon discovering Matthew’s body, Susan replied, “I didn’t want to call EMS. I didn’t want to call anybody because I didn’t want them to come take him. I know it sounds crazy. I just thought, well, if I can sit here with him, it will all be OK.” Authorities responding to the call also found the body of Susan’s stepmother, Linda Ann Burns (64) in the home she shared with Susan and Matthew. The bodies of Susan’s younger son, Marshall Wayne Hendricks (20), and her ex-husband, Mark Wayne Hendricks (52), were found next door in the house they shared. Marshall was found on the porch, covered with a blanket, while his father was on the sofa. Both had been shot in the chest.
Susan told the police Matthew had been suicidal recently, possibly from several friends forgetting his recent birthday. She showed them the note left behind on the counter, as well, suggesting it was a suicide note. Handwriting experts later confirmed the letter was likely written by Matthew, but it was suspected he had written it in the past and Susan used it to suggest suicide.
Susan was arrested 10 days after the shootings after statements to police were found to be “inconsistent with scientific and forensic evidence.” At the time of her arrest, she was surrounded by numerous wills and insurance policies for her deceased family. It was suggested Susan had killed her family for their multiple insurance policies which totaled $680,000. Each of the policies named Susan as the beneficiary.
Susan pleaded guilty by mentally ill at her trial. To prove Susan’s mental state, psychologist David Price was called as a witness. Price had met with Susan during 14 separate sessions and testified Susan had a variety of mental conditions, including post traumatic stress disorder, either major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder), stemming from “very severe” sexual and physical abuse Susan was exposed to during her childhood and early teen years.
In exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecution agreed they would not seek the death penalty. Susan was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole, and is to receive mental health treatments while incarcerated.
“Woman who murdered 4 in family brought them together to pray before killings.” Fox News. June 3, 2013. Updated: November 21, 2015. Accessed: October 14, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/us/woman-who-murdered-4-in-family-brought-them-together-to-pray-before-killings
Dykes, David. “Four life sentences for Liberty woman who admitted killing family.” The State. April 27, 2013. Accessed: October 14, 2020. https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article14427806.html
Brush, Jeff. “Liberty Murder Suspect Squandered Thousands after Filing Bankruptcy.” Patch. October 30, 2011. Accessed: October 14, 2020. https://patch.com/south-carolina/easley/liberty-murder-suspect-spent-insurance-benefits-after6818803c9f
“South Carolina Woman Killed Family to Collect Insurance Money, Police Say.” Fox News. October 25, 2011. Updated: November 28, 2015. Accessed: October 14, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/us/south-carolina-woman-killed-family-to-collect-insurance-money-police-say
Kinnard, Meg. “Cops: One body in Liberty home had gun, note nearby.” Aiken Standard. October 18, 2011. Accessed: October 14, 2020. https://www.postandcourier.com/aikenstandard/news/cops-one-body-in-liberty-home-had-gun-note-nearby/article_c3a6d7f5-76ed-5c37-b9b7-5918c0312bf7.html