A 24-year-old St. Paul man was charged Wednesday with killing a woman whose body was discovered by her 7-year-old son over the weekend.
Sammy D. Henderson was charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of Sherell Montrese Craighead, 30.
According to the complaint: Craighead’s son went to his grandmother’s house about 7 a.m. Sunday. The two went to sleep, and when they woke later, the grandmother asked why he had come over.
“The seven-year-old boy said his mother … was sleeping naked on the floor and bleeding from her back.”
The grandmother took the boy to his apartment on E. Minnehaha Avenue, where she found her daughter stiff with rigor mortis. Craighead’s son told authorities that Henderson was over Saturday and that he argued with Craighead, according to charges. The boy said he woke up to his mother’s screams and saw her near the dresser. She told him to call 911, the boy said, but he couldn’t find a phone and went to bed.
Henderson contacted police Monday after hearing that authorities were looking for him. Henderson told them he and Craighead were casual sex partners, the charges said. He was repeatedly evasive with authorities and initially denied getting “physical” with her. Henderson also tried to shift blame on Craighead, calling her a “drama queen” and telling police she flung herself against walls and caused her own injuries, the complaint said.
Under questioning by Sgt. Jake Peterson, Henderson eventually told police he forced her to have sex Saturday even though she told him to stop, the complaint said.
“Sergeant Peterson asked, ‘But you never grabbed her neck tightly, right?’ Henderson replied, ‘No — not super tight,’ ” according to the charges. Henderson later admitted that he grabbed her neck with his left hand during sex.
Henderson said that he laid her down on the bed “softly” and left without checking on her or calling for help.
“He let her go and she ‘just hit the bed’ and let out a short grunt without saying anything else,” the charges said. “Henderson said she was right on the edge of the bed and thought she could have rolled off it when he heard the thump.”
The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office ruled her death a homicide caused by asphyxia due to manual strangulation.
One of the charges is second-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit criminal sexual conduct.
Henderson has previous convictions for damage to property, disorderly conduct and interfering with a 911 call involving other victims.
Craighead’s father, Charles, was shot and killed by St. Paul police in 2001 after he had wrestled a gun away from a man who had carjacked him. An officer said he fired when Craighead didn’t follow orders to put the gun down and pointed it at him. Witnesses however, contradicted that account, and the Craighead family received a $400,000 settlement from the city.