Correction: Henderson not indicted in homicide, reckless burning case

A Blount County grand jury issued a no true bill Monday in the case of Thomas David Henderson, who was charged in connection with a garage fire that killed his ex-girlfriend.

(The Daily Times reported incorrectly in Tuesday’s edition that Henderson was indicted by the grand jury on the charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless burning. We regret and apologize for the error.)

Henderson, 52, was charged in the death of 56-year-old Cheryl Quinn, on Oct. 15, 2010.

Blount County Assistant District Attorney Mike Flynn, when reached by phone Tuesday, declined to comment on the grand jury’s decision, citing legal ramifications. Henderson was originally charged with aggravated arson and criminal homicide, but the charges were reduced by General Sessions Judge William R. Brewer to reckless burning and criminally negligent homicide during a preliminary court hearing on March 3, 2011.

Henderson and Quinn were living together, and according to a 911 call Quinn made at the time of the blaze, she told the dispatcher that Henderson had set the fire. Quinn also told the dispatcher that she was really concerned and didn’t want to leave the house to put out the fire because she was afraid of Henderson. When dispatchers called Quinn’s cell phone to determine her condition, she could be heard coughing and screaming.

“Help me! help me!” Quinn was heard screaming before the line went quiet according to authorities. Blount County firefighters found Quinn still alive in the bathroom of her residence, but she died two days later at the Vanderbilt University Burn Center in Nashville. Testimony shared during the March 3 preliminary hearing stated that Quinn died from smoke inhalation, according to the autopsy report.

Bryan Delius, Henderson’s attorney based in Sevierville, said at the time that there was no proof that the man intentionally set the fire that killed Quinn. He introduced witnesses from an April 25, 2010, incident when Henderson was at the University of Tennessee Medical Center following a motorcycle accident. During the incident at the hospital, Quinn allegedly threatened to set Henderson’s possessions on fire. Delius suggested that Quinn could have set the fire, as evidence of Henderson’s clothes were found outside the garage in a pile where the fire started.

Judge Brewer decided that the state had only provided enough proof to send charges of reckless burning to the grand jury.