Mother Kills her Two Sons, Her Husband and Her Step-Mother
Paragraph four reads: "One thing that is absolutely clear is that she is and has been on a very serious medication regimen,” said Mauldin, who has been appointed to defend Hendricks."
Paragraph eight reads: "Hendricks’ brother, James Robert Burns Jr., described his sister’s illness as “bipolar. ” Mauldin said Hendricks had a complicated diagnosis that he didn’t feel competent to describe."
SSRI Stories note: Bipolar illness [ a.k.a.manic depression] is treated with an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer. Also, it is sometimes treated with an antidepressant, a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic.
Susan Hendricks’ relatives and friends say she has long been haunted by a debilitating mental illness, and they can’t accept the portrait of her painted by investigators as a cold, evil, calculating woman who planned the execution of her family to collect insurance money.
Her brother, friends and public defender said she is the sum of a more complicated life, one hampered they said by brain damage suffered years ago when she was beaten in a confrontation over a matter involving her older son. John Mauldin, the 13th Circuit public defender, said Wednesday he has just begun to investigate the depth of Hendricks’ mental illness and whether it would interfere with her ability to participate in her defense. “One thing that is absolutely clear is that she is and has been on a very serious medication regimen,” said Mauldin, who has been appointed to defend Hendricks. Investigators and the prosecutor said Hendricks’ mental state wasn’t a factor in charging her with four counts of murder in what Pickens County Sheriff David Stone described as “a horrendous act of evil.” Donna Drafts, a friend who lived in Hendricks’ home for several years, said she asked Hendricks if she did it, or if there was even a possibility she did and couldn’t remember because of her problem with memory loss. “No, I could not have killed my boys,” Drafts remembered Hendricks telling her during a visit at the Easley hotel where Hendricks was later arrested.
Hendricks’ brother, James Robert Burns Jr., described his sister’s illness as “bipolar.” Mauldin said Hendricks had a complicated diagnosis that he didn’t feel competent to describe. She has been on disability because of her mental impairment for several years, he said. “The condition that she suffers from is not a condition that just kind of comes and goes,” Mauldin said. “In other words, she has a condition that is permanent.” Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins said it would be inappropriate to comment on Hendricks’ mental health, and any information on the subject would likely come out in court. Susan Diane Hendricks, 48, is accused in warrants of murdering her two sons, Matthew and Marshall Hendricks, their father, Mark Hendricks, and her stepmother, Linda Burns. Their bodies were found Oct. 14 after a 911 caller reported a possible suicide. Deputies said Hendricks told them her older son, Matthew, shot himself, and that they found a .380-caliber handgun on a bedside table next to his body. Scientific testing and a medical examiner’s findings were inconsistent with Hendricks’ statement, investigators alleged in a warrant. 'Always nice' Diane Swords, who lives across the street from the death scene at 236 and 304 Pinedale Road, said that in the few encounters she had with Hendricks, she “seemed normal” and was “always nice.” Hendricks visited after the birth of each of Swords’ daughters and told her to call if she ever needed anything. Swords, whose daughters are still young, said she was relieved by an arrest but is still struggling to understand. A Liberty High graduate, Hendricks worked for many years at General Electric in Greenville until her disability for mental illness caused her to leave her job, Burns said. Her mental condition worsened a few years ago when she was beaten, he said. She went to a home during a confrontation over a matter that involved her older son and was dragged inside and beaten so severely she suffered brain damage and memory loss, Burns said. Worried about stresses in his sister’s life, Burns said he tried to get his sister to move to Alabama, where he lives. She didn’t want to leave her sons or abandon her stepmother who would have had to go to a nursing home, he said. Burns said if his sister did commit murder and he’s not convinced she did that it wasn’t for the insurance money, as investigators contend.
Wilkins is reviewing evidence to decide whether to seek the death penalty if Hendricks is convicted. The case could qualify because multiple people were killed. A decision will take place likely after months of reviewing evidence, Wilkins said.
Mauldin declined to comment on the evidence, saying, “It is too early draw any conclusions or assumptions from what was stated at a press conference conducted by the prosecutor and the sheriff.” No woman is currently on death row in South Carolina, Wilkins said. Two women have been executed in the state, the last in 1947. The last woman who faced a death penalty trial in the Upstate was Jennifer Holloway in 2006 in the killing of businessman Jim Cockman. A jury convicted Holloway and her common-law husband of kidnapping and murder but couldn’t agree on whether to sentence the two to death, leaving a judge to impose life sentences. Drafts described Hendricks as a good mother who provided for her boys. “If she did this, she didn’t do it because she is an evil person,” Drafts said. “She is a sick person. She is not evil.”