Murders A-Z is a collection of true crime stories that take an in-depth look at both little-known and famous murders throughout history.
The disappearance of Girly Chew Hossencofft is a tale that includes con men, fashion designers, UFO’s, spousal abuse and conspiracy theories about otherworldly aliens that secretly rule the Earth. Adding to the mystery of her presumed murder is the fact that her body has never been found. Fortunately, a jury didn’t need a body to send her killers, Diazien Hossencofft and Linda Henning, to prison, though people are still wondering how Henning, an attractive and successful businesswoman, fell under Diazien’s murderous spell.
Linda Henning was born on October 10th, 1953 and grew up in Hollywood, California. When she was 11-years-old, her father left her mother, a wound many feel she tried to salve with a succession of boyfriends on whom she pinned unrealistic expectations and deep emotional needs. Author Mark Horner, who wrote the 2014 book ‘September Sacrifice’ about Girly Chew’s disappearance, told Oxygen’s “Snapped”: “This is a person who according to her own mother would believe the moon was made out of cheese if a boy had said it.”
After high school, Henning supported herself as a model and eventually began designing women’s apparel. Her clothing line did well and in the late ‘80s she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. By 1999, Henning’s business was flourishing, she owned a beautiful home and was engaged to be married. In her free time she pursued such regional interests as Southwestern art and UFO’s. As friend Peter Ekberg told “Snapped,” “This area is known for UFO activity and stuff. You’ve got Roswell (where aliens allegedly crash landed in 1947), and Area 51 (where alien corpses are allegedly stored) is not too far away.”
According to CNN, in the summer of 1999, Henning met Diazien Hossencofft at a seminar led by conspiracy theorist David Icke. Among Icke’s beliefs is that the world is controlled and manipulated by an “unseen” global network, who he has previously identified as inter-dimensional, pedophiliac, shape-shifting reptilians that include most of the world’s ruling elite—from George Soros to the British Royal Family.
Hossencofft told Henning he was a doctor and former member of the C.I.A. He made his money treating rich women by giving them vitamin injections that he said would stop the aging process and in some cases even cure cancer. According to court documents, he also claimed to be an alien and to be immortal. In reality, he was a 34-year-old con man from Houston, Texas, named Armand Chavez. As author Mark Horner told “Snapped,” “Hossencofft was absolutely, one hundred percent, a fraud.”
Two weeks after meeting, Henning dumped her fiancé and began a romantic relationship with Hossencofft, telling friends they were going to be married. Unfortunately, Hossencofft was already married at the time to 36-year-old Girly Chew Hossencofft. Girly grew up in Malaysia and met Diazien while on vacation in the United States. They were married in 1992 and moved to Albuquerque, where she worked as a teller with the Bank of America. According to Girly’s co-workers, she had been a victim of domestic abuse. In fact, Horner told “Snapped” that “there were at least two reported episodes of domestic violence to the Albuquerque Police Department involving Girly Chew Hossencofft and Diazien Hossencofft.” After years of spousal abuse and finding out that Diazien was a fraud, Girly movied out of their home and filed for divorce in February 1999.
After filing for divorce, Diazien repeatedly threatened Girly. She told her friends and employers she was in fear for her safety. According to Court TV, she contacted the F.B.I. and told them to investigate her husband should anything happen to her. She was also planning on exposing his various crimes.
Meanwhile, Linda Henning’s friends were concerned about her behavior after falling under Diazien’s spell. Her ex-fiancé told mutual friend Stephen Zachary she had stopped changing her clothes and bathing and that he thought she had “some chemical imbalance.” Henning pushed her friends to use Hossencofft’s miracle treatments and told them he was a 1,000-year-old alien who had promised her great powers. “The reptile aliens were going to be coming to the earth and particular individuals would be their local emissaries. She was going to be the reptile queen,” a private investigator told “Snapped.”
On the evening of September 9, 1999, Girly Chew Hossencofft left work and was never seen again. Her supervisor reported her missing to police the next day when she failed to come to work. Detectives went to her apartment where they found bleach stains on the carpet and wet spots where it had been cleaned. But they hadn’t cleaned it enough. “There were found these seven spots of blood,” private investigator David Pfeffer told “Snapped.” That same day, on a stretch of highway 120 miles south of Albuquerque a workman found a tarp, a woman’s blouse, shorts, underwear, and pieces of duct tape and gauze, all smeared with blood and containing strands of hair.
When police went to question Diazien Hossencofft they found his front door open and his house empty of people and belongings. On the afternoon of September 12th, 1999, authorities questioned Linda Henning, who claimed she didn’t know Hossencofft’s whereabouts and that she didn’t expect to see him again. When asked about his wife Girly, Henning said they had never met.
Detectives eventually tracked Diazien to Charleston, South Carolina, where he was staying with a woman named Cheryl Culp. Like Henning, she believed that she and Hossencofft were to be married. He denied any knowledge of his wife’s whereabouts and was extradited back to New Mexico.
When the tests results came back on the evidence found at Girly’s apartment and along the highway, police where surprised with what they found. As expected, Girly’s blood and hair was all over them, but there was another person’s DNA on the items and it wasn’t Diazien Hossencofft’s. It was Linda Henning’s. “There were long strands of hair that were found in the tarp that were Linda’s. Girly’s blood of course was found in her apartment, but Linda’s blood was found there too,” a journalist told “Snapped.”
Police executed a search warrant on Henning’s home and a found a Japanese ninja sword hidden in the ceiling of her garage. Receipts showed that Diazien Hossencofft had purchased it on the day of Girly’s disappearance. They also found a shotgun and a .22 Baretta handgun. Detectives discovered Linda had been lying when she claimed to have never met Girly. Bank of America records showed that Linda had banked there and on at least one occasion, and the missing woman had been her teller. October 29, police arrested Linda Henning for perjury and three weeks later, on November 17, she and Diazien Hossencofft were indicted for first-degree murder.
In January 14, 2002, Diazien Hossencofft surprised prosecutors by pleading guilty to planning the murder of Girly Chew Hossencofft. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years, according to the Plainview Daily Herald, and as part of his plea deal was allowed to serve his sentence out of state in Wyoming. Hossencofft, however, denied taking part in the actual murder itself and said he did not know where to find his wife’s remains.
According to Court TV on CNN, a prosecutor alleged that Linda had eaten Girly’s flesh. “During the course of the case's investigation, it was reported by more than one individual that the defendant had made statements that she had actually consumed the flesh of Girly Chew Hossencofft and that as a consequence her remains and body would never be recovered by authorities," the prosecutor wrote in a memorandum.
Linda Henning’s murder trial began on October 1, 2002, and was truly a historic case. “Linda was the first woman in New Mexico history, since statehood, that would have faced the death penalty,” a journalist told “Snapped.” While the prosecution’s case relied on forensic evidence, Henning’s defense relied on a sole witness; Diazien Hossencofft. Though he denied Henning’s involvement in the murder and claimed that he planted her blood at the crime scene, the testimony of a known con artist and convicted killer held little sway over the jury. As Stephen Zachary told “Snapped,” “A first day law student - not a first year, a first day law student - would never use a liar as the crux of someone’s defense, never.”
On October 25, 2002, a jury found Linda Henning guilty of first-degree felony murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, perjury, criminal solicitation, and tampering with evidence. She escaped the death penalty and instead was sentenced to 73 and a half years in prison. In 2010, the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned her perjury convictions, but upheld her convictions and sentence.
The body of Girly Chew Hossencofft remains missing to this day.
[Photo of Girly Chew: Oxygen's "Snapped"]