Local News

Wife: Husband Suspected of Killing Children 'Unbalanced'

Posted March 13, 2007 12:16 p.m. EDT
Updated March 13, 2007 6:12 p.m. EDT

— A Johnston County woman described her estranged husband as "unbalanced" Monday shortly before deputies found him and the couple's two children dead.

Steven Henry, 35, of Garner, likely shot his 6-year-old daughter, Ashley, and 4-year-old son, Gregory, before turning a gun on himself Monday morning, authorities said. Authorities are awaiting the results of autopsies to confirm the cause of death for all three.

Johnston County Sheriff's Office deputies were responding to a 911 call from Dawn Henry, the children's mother, Monday morning when they found the bodies in Steven Henry's car outside Dawn Henry's house on Vinson Drive, between Clayton and Wilson's Mills.

Steven Henry was in the front seat, and the children were in the back seat, covered by a red sheet, according to a search warrant.

Dawn Henry said she was afraid after seeing her husband's car parked at her house when she returned home. She didn't know he and her children were dead inside the vehicle.

"I am legally separated from my husband, and he is asleep in his car parked in front of my house," Dawn Henry told a 911 dispatcher. "I'm concerned. He is unbalanced. I would like someone to come and tell him to leave. He is asleep in his car in front of my house."

Henry told the dispatcher that her husband didn't show up for a court-ordered mediation session Monday morning.

Investigators said the couple was engaged in a bitter custody battle over their children that attorneys for both sides said began about six weeks ago.

Steven Gregory had picked up the children last Friday and was to keep them until this Friday, authorities said. But Gregory was absent from day care on Monday, and Ashley didn't show up for classes at East Clayton Elementary School.

"It is extremely sensitive," Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Crystal Roberts said of the slayings. "You never get used to it. This is something that you never get used to, and we really just take each situation as it comes."

The couple legally separated last July, and Dawn Henry and her children had been renting the Johnston County house for about six months.

In court documents, she described her husband as aggressive and cold toward their relationship. She said he abused the family's pets, including breaking their dog's leg.

Investigators found two boxes of ammunition inside Steven Henry's house late Monday, according to a search warrant.

Dawn Henry filed for a protective order from her husband in Pender County last September, but the order was dismissed less than two weeks later, according to authorities.