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Arizona Mom Accused Of Smothering Kids While She Sang To Them Pleads Not Guilty

Rachel Henry has been accused of killing her three children, all of whom were under the age of 4, while two other adults were in the home and unaware of what was happening.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

An Arizona mother accused of smothering her three children has pleaded not guilty to the crime.

Rachel Henry, 22, appeared in court in Maricopa County Superior Court for her arraignment on Tuesday, February 4, where she entered her plea in response to three counts of first-degree murder, the Arizona Republic reports. Henry — who wore a jail uniform and shackles during the hearing — said very little beyond stating her name and birthday. 

Her court-appointed lawyer Alan Tavassoli opted not to offer comment following the court appearance, according to the outlet.

Henry is accused of killing her three children — 3-year-old Zane Henry, 1-year-old Mireya Henry, and 7-month-old Catalaya Rios — on January 20, local outlet KFOR reports. Police say that Henry admitted during an interview with police to killing her children; she allegedly said that she started off by killing her 1-year-old by straddling her and covering her mouth, while ignoring the protests of her 3-year-old son, according to an affidavit obtained by the outlet.

Rachel Henry Pd

She then allegedly planned to kill her son, but was interrupted by visitors. Later on, she managed to get to him in his bedroom alone and allegedly killed him in the same manner that she's accused of murdering her daughter — all while singing to him, the report states. Police say she then killed her infant last, waiting for her to fall asleep after feeding her, again allegedly smothering the girl as she sang to her.

A grand jury indicted Henry on January 28, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office previously said in a statement.

Online jail records show that Henry is being held in custody in lieu of $3 million bail, according to NBC News. She is scheduled to return to court for a pre-trial conference on March 24.

Henry had previously lost custody of her children for a time in Oklahoma, where she lived before moving to Prague, Arizona to be closer to her kids, who were living with an aunt, KFOR reports.

A motive for the killing has not been revealed, but relatives claimed Henry struggled with an addiction to methamphetamine and had been behaving strangely in the days leading up to the children’s deaths, the station previously reported.

The children were buried over the weekend in Oklahoma, local outlet KPNX reports.

Pearl Rebolledo Velazco, the children’s great-aunt, and Pedro Rios, the father of Catalaya and possibly her siblings, were both present at the home at the time of the killings, according to The Associated Press. However, they had no reason to suspect that Henry was doing anything other than putting the children down for their naps, Velazco said at a vigil for the children held late last month.

“I can’t change it now. I can’t change it now. And that’s killing me,” she said.