The discovery of the decomposing corpse of a young Portland, Ore., mother in the Nevada desert — the apparent victim of a couple who ended their lives in Florida in a murder-suicide — has sparked a nationwide search for the woman's two little girls.
The two girls, 2-year-old Shaina Henson and her sister, 4-month-old Shausha, were last accounted for on April 5, when their 21-year-old mother, Kimyala Henson, checked into a hotel in Redding, Calif., with Frank Oehring and Christine Mayer.
Oehring, whose ex-wife says he was the leader of a group of Satanists in Missouri, and Mayer were found on April 20, in a car at a rest area near Naples, Fla., both shot in what the Collier County Sheriff's Office said was a murder-suicide. Literature related to Satanism reportedly was found in the car.
Henson's body was found April 29 in the Nevada desert, near a rest area 37 miles north of Wadsworth, and she was finally identified on Tuesday. She had been shot several times, Washoe County Sheriff's Deputy Michelle Youngs said, adding that it did not seem that Satanism played a part in her killing.
"There was nothing about the way the body was found to indicate ritual or any of that," Youngs said.
Searching for Bodies
Search teams have been combing the Nevada desert around where Henson's body was found ever since she was identified as the missing Portland woman on Tuesday. The searchers, including dogs and a helicopter, have covered more than 200 square miles, and no sign of the two little girls has turned up, which offers hope they are still alive.
"We're not convinced the children are dead," Youngs said. "We are going on the assumption the kids are alive."
Oehring, 28, and his girlfriend, Mayer, 24, were named as the prime suspects in the killing of Henson, and police are hoping that the two may have taken the two girls with them after killing Henson and dropped them off somewhere along the way to Florida.
The tale, spanning from Oregon to Florida, began on April 4, when Henson agreed to go with Mayer, a woman she befriended four years ago when they met at a Portland, Ore., church, and Oehring on a trip to British Columbia.
Relatives said Henson did not know Oehring, who Mayer introduced as her husband, calling him Curtis.
Fugitive From a Murder Plot
Oehring was a fugitive from Missouri, where he was supposed to stand trial on March 7 on charges that he conspired to kill his ex-wife. Oehring's parents told police in Florida that their son left Missouri on March 6 with Mayer.
After hooking up with Henson in Portland, they did not head north from Portland to Canada. Instead, the group went to California so Henson could get a copy of her birth certificate.
"It appears she thought she needed her birth certificate to get into Canada," Portland Police spokesman Henry Groepper said. "Why she thought that I don't know."
Kids Could Be Anywhere
On April 5, someone picked up Henson's birth certificate in Sacramento, Calif., and that night the three adults and two children spent the night in the Shasta Lodge in Redding.
After that the trail is composed mostly of credit card receipts from gas stations, motels and restaurants, though on April 9, Mayer got an identification card in Henson's name from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles in Las Vegas, using the birth certificate.
The paper trail winds through Utah, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, leading to its bloody end at the Naples rest area.
"Those kids are somewhere between [Portland] and Florida," Groepper said. "They could be anywhere."