Updated: 7 days ago
Born Nov 3, 1973
Belleville, Republic County, Kansas, USA
To those who knew and loved her, Sheila Ann Deviney was the life of the party: larger than life and twice as potent. Born to David and Susan Deviney, Sheila was their second child between brothers Davey and Jack. Equal parts angelic and devilish, Sheila was the bond that kept her family and friends held together tightly.
A popular girl in her Maysville, Oklahoma high school, Sheila had every girl's dream when she the cheerleader caught the eye of and married the college football hero in 1993. Her idyllic life was well on its way.
ABOVE: Sheila Deviney poses with her beloved older brother, Davy at Christmas 2003 festivities in her parent's home next door. This is one of the last known photographs taken of Sheila Deviney. She was murdered ten days later.
But Sheila's perfect world soon deteriorated into a nightmare of brutality, perversion, drug abuse and cruelty. In each city that they lived, according to her family, Sheila had to witness the unparalleled criminal behavior of her husband, Tyson Hendrix, and spiraled deeper and deeper into substance and alcohol abused with him. She was also on the receiving end of domestic violence in the home. Soon, she was the mother of two children which they could barely provide for, but loved her children more than anything.
Sheila went on with her life and did the best she could. She wanted nothing more than to change her life and the path she was on for her and her children. On November 18th, 1997, Sheila filed for divorce after five years of marriage and it ended in a bitterness and a contentious child custody battle. It was at this time that she and her parents thought it best she moved back to Maysville. Her parents purchased a new trailer home and placed it on their property not far from the original trailer home, only about 50 ft away. They moved into the new home and let Sheila and her children move in to the original one. She and her parents felt she was much safer being closer to them.
On Feb 12, 1998, Sheila filed for a protective order against Tyson. Tyson denied the allegations against him, but still agreed to the Victim Protective Order. The complaint stated that Tyson was abusing her and the children.
"She would not even exchange the children with him here," David Deviney said. "They had to meet in a public place. She was that scared of him."
"We were having our heart-to-heart talk, and she said, 'Mom, he's going to kill me,' and I said, 'Tyson is not going to kill you. He can't,'" Susan Deviney said.
In October of 1998, both Sheila and Tyson completed the required co-parenting course set by the courts. It was finally a time of peace in Sheila's life. But it was to be short lived.
On December 28th of 1998, Tyson was awarded full custody of the children, and child support from Sheila was waived. Following a number of legal continuances where her permanent custody and amended child support were in limbo, Sheila demanded that her ex-husband do right by his children.
Sheila had been in rehab after the divorce to try to get herself clean for her family, and Tyson had used this against her in court. After rehabilitating herself completely from substance abuse, she returned to college where Sheila had gotten an associate degree in science from Murray State College in Oklahoma and was working her way towards a teaching degree. Her two children were returned to the Catholic faith and Sheila prided herself on their perfect attendance at Mass.
Entered into OSCN on August 30th, 2000 - Sheila and Tyson had come to a mutual agreement out of court, a modified joint custody plan. Tyson had a high paying job in the oil field with a reputable company and it might be lost due to the moral clause regarding child support issues. Either Tyson wasn't aware of this clause, or simply didn't think the modification would be approved by the court, but from there, no child support was ever paid. As a matter of fact, Tyson was held in contempt of court on several occasions, didn't show up to court on several occasions, and filed several motions to modify the agreement. He was held in contempt on:
Aug 7th, 2001 - Contempt
July 23rd, 2002 Contempt
September 5th, 2002 – Bench Warrant for Failure to Comply with Order
During this time, Sheila remarries in July of 2001 to Wayne Braxton Jr. However that did not last. He filed for divorce in Feb of 2003. He remarried in March 2006. In Late Feb 2006, his wife filed an emergency protective order against him but was later dismissed upon their mutual agreement, and she filed for divorce in Feb of 2009.
Finally, continuance after continuance filed by Tyson, they were heard in court on September 22nd, 2003. Full custody of the kids was granted to Sheila, Tyson to receive standard visitations, which in OK is usually every other weekend. Child support of $300 a month was reinforced. Hendrix owed Sheila $20,000 in back child support, and the court had given him an ultimatum: pay up or go to jail. The money was due Jan. 5, 2004. When Sheila Showed up to the courthouse, she was informed that the date had been moved to January 27th.
On January 6th, 2004, only 3 months later and a day after Tyson's original deadline, Sheila took her children to school at Whitebead at 8:00 am. She spoke with a good friend of hers via cell phone all the way home. Upon her arrival, she indicated that she had a visitor, a “special friend,” and she nervously ended the call. Sheila's second ex-husband, Wayne Braxton, was also in the picture. He had actually been staying at her place a few nights a week. However, he maintains they argued the night before, and he left town.
Allen Green, a neighbor, drives by the home around 9:30am and notices nothing suspicious. He states he did not see any vehicles or smoke or fire at that time. He also states he did not see any cars drive past his home at this time as he was outside working.
Deviney's neighbor Lisa Coslett saw the home smouldering around 10:08am. She stated she was driving by when she saw the smoke and stopped at the home. She opened the front door, the front wood door was already open. She said she did not see any flames inside, but saw greenish gray and red colored smoke. She called Allen Green, then 911.
Others, Brandy Green and Rita Green, called 911 at 10:20am. The Green brothers arrived shortly after, and there was a small crowd of people when The Fire Marshall arrived.
When he arrived, he saw the front screen door was closed, but the wood door was open. The home was filled with smoke. He went around the back and the backdoor was closed and hot to the touch. He went back around to the front and stepped inside, but the smoke was too thick and he was forced back out. He saw flames and smoke coming out of the south windows of the mobile home. The Maysville Fire Dept arrived on scene at 10:25am. The first fire truck arrived at 10:30am. Lindsey Fire Dept also responded. By 11:30am, the fire was finally extinguished. It was then that Chief Southard went through the front door with his assistant Chief and found a body on the kitchen floor.
The fire at Deviney's home sent a chill down her mother's spine to rival that morning's record cold.
"It was 8 degrees out. I didn't even know it. I couldn't feel anything," said Susan Deviney.
Susan Deviney couldn't see anything either. Her daughter's trailer home was filled with smoke. First responders and police were already there, where the police chief met Susan and her husband out front.
"I said, 'Have they found Sheila?' and he looked at me with tears in his eyes, and he said, 'I don't have that information,'" Susan said.
Sheila's car was in the driveway, and she wasn't answering her phone.
"It was just like I knew she was gone. All I could do was stand there," Susan said.
David Deviney, however, rushed past firefighters hoping for a miracle.
"I managed to get in. The ashes were deep. I never found her," he said.
Later, Sheila was found dead inside by responding Maysville fire fighters. She was burned beyond recognition.
The Garvin County Sheriff's Office did not initiate an investigation. State Fire Marshal's Office deduced that the melted pan above was the main source of the blaze. Investigators hypothesized that Sheila had become inattentive while cooking and was incapacitated by a 'black flash' of hot material from the pan. The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner did perform an autopsy but refused to reveal the results of the procedure for over nine months.
The Liquid Propane Gas Inspector came to the location to observe the damage within 24 hours of the blaze. It was him who suggested this was a case of arson. (Family Statements)
The burned-out trailer and any evidence it contained was demolished the next day. According to the Devineys, Tyson Hendrix insisted on bulldozing what was left of the home.
One neighbor said he seemed nervous.
"He was running the backhoe just extremely erratically. And he looked straight at me and said, 'Do you think I did this?' And at the time, it didn't dawn on me that anyone had done it," said Daniel Beck.
The Devineys hired a private investigator to find some answers, starting with why their daughter's ex-husband would volunteer so quickly to obliterate the crime scene.
"That would be a good way to make sure no one ever finds it," David Ballard said.
Fortunately, the Devineys had the forethought to preserve what little evidence they did have from the scene, including photographs that they believe show there were three ignition points in the trailer.
Three separate fires had been started in her trailer. One was started on a propane heater in what would later be classified as an amateur attempt make this location appear to be the source of the fire. A second fire was started in a bathroom and a third was started on Sheila herself in the kitchen by way of flammable fluids splashed around her and soaked into spare clothing packed tightly against her. Sheila was made into a human torch by persons intent on erasing all evidence of her existence. She was alive when the flames engulfed her.
Just months after the fire marshal’s office put out a report of the incident being an accident, the lab technicians at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation found evidence that pointed the other way. The examination of cloth and carpet samples around Sheila’s body from the scene had traces of intangible fluid.
The Oklahoma State Fire Marshal's office refused to admit that the fatal blaze was anything other than an accidental house fire for nearly a year, despite what the Maysville Volunteer fire fighters and the Liquid Propane Gas Inspector had to say in their verbal and written reports to the contrary.
This opinion of an accidental house fire was ultimately amended nine months later when forensic findings from Sheila's immolated remains indicated the presence of accelerates on her body and in her lungs.
Finally released, the coroner’s report also confirmed the presence of benzene and toluene (two highly flammable substances) on her and in her blood and lungs. As a result, Sheila’s death was then ruled a homicide and an investigation ensued. (See ME Report)
Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid which becomes a vapor when exposed to air at room temperature. Toluene vapor has a sharp or sweet odor, which is a sign of exposure. Workers can be exposed to toluene by breathing it in, getting it on their skin, getting it splashed into their eyes, or swallowing it. These types of exposures may make workers sick immediately or cause effects over time. Toluene exposures have been studied in nail salons and printing establishments, auto repair, and construction activities. Toluene is typically used in a mixture with other solvents and chemicals such as paint pigments. Products that may contain toluene-such as paint, metal cleaners and adhesives-are used in many industries and can be found in many workplaces. Gasoline and other fuels also contain toluene. Workers using toluene-containing paints, varnishes, shellac, nail polish, glues and adhesives, rust preventives or printing inks may be exposed to toluene. Toluene is also flammable, and its vapors can be ignited by flames, sparks or other ignition sources. (OSHA)
Benzene is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum and is found in gasoline and other fuels. Benzene is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, pesticides, and other chemicals. With exposures from less than five years to more than 30 years, individuals have developed, and died from, leukemia. Long-term exposure may affect bone marrow and blood production. Short-term exposure to high levels of benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death. Benzene is highly flammable. The agent will be easily ignited by heat, sparks, or flames. Fire will produce irritating, corrosive, and/or toxic gases. Benzene reacts violently with oxidants and halogens, causing a fire hazard. (OSHA, CDC)
ABOVE: A post fire photograph of Sheila Deviney's burned kitchen, feet from where she lay in her trailer. This opinion of an accidental house fire was ultimately amended nine months later when forensic findings from Sheila's immolated remains indicated the presence of accelerants on her body and in her lungs.
The Gallery above shows the damage to the home.The below photo shows the furnace, one of the ignition points that was doused with accelerant.
ABOVE: The original and the amended report of Investigator Joanne Sellers of the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal. Despite evidence that indicated an arson fatality, the report has multiple errors and indicates a different number of film rolls than previously mentioned. It also fails to mention the additional material removed from Sheila Deviney's trailer, including the front door and substantial portions of the charred carpet beneath her corpse. These materials were lost from SFM custody and never located.
ABOVE: Front page of the autopsy report by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. These findings were not published until September, 2004.
ABOVE: Toxicology reports taken from tissue samples during the autopsy indicated the presence of the chemicals toluene and benzene, two compounds commonly found in products such as canned ether or engine starting fluid.
Also ABOVE: Sheila Deviney's amended death certificate indicating her death as homicide.
Going over these reports with my medical experts, our theory is (for the amount of Toluene in her lungs, her carboxyhemoglobin at %18, which should have been closer to %80 or more to have died from the fire and was conscious the whole time) there is a major possibility that she was incapacitated by a chemical - probably paint thinner - over her mouth, making her inhale large amounts before she passed out. If this is true, paint thinner could have caused immediate issues like a reduced reparation rate, unconsciousness, and possible seizures. This would have been a perfect time to pile the clothes around her, douse them with accelerant and well as her, and light it on fire. She most likely would not have woke after this, causing her to burn alive, yet unconscious. Someone did, in fact, pack clothing around her and douse them. Her mother states the home was emasculate at the time because she had just helped her clean from top to bottom for head lice and everything was in it's place, especially the clothing.
Jessica Evans, Deviney's friend since childhood, said she is convinced Deviney was murdered. Evans, 31, of Dallas, said she bases her conclusion on conversations she had with Deviney days before the fire.
"She told me she was being followed by a white car whenever she took the kids to school, Evans said. "She was scared. She never told me who she thought it was. I didn't think much about it at the time. "I thought, Well, maybe it's a new neighbor who drives down that same road every morning' or something else. Now, I wish I would have taken it more seriously.
Sheila’s sister-in-law, Betty, had also stated that on the day of the fire, when she had called Tyson at his work to tell him about it, the receptionist had told him that he wasn’t there. But he had claimed to be at work to the fire marshals. Hendrix's foreman said he left work abruptly with an unidentified man around 8 a.m. The receptionist told Betty, "Well, he's not here." Tyson called her back.
"He cussed at me for calling him and told me he already knew that (the trailer was on fire)," Betty said. "There is no way he could have known this was happening."
Another witness, Daniel Beck, followed the fire truck to Sheila's house around 10 a.m.
"Tyson, I believe, was there whenever I got there, whenever I actually pulled in," Beck said.
We also found an old resume Tyson had sent in to a prospective employer in '92. His work experience is jarring.
In his own hand, he notes he was currently working at Oklahoma Safety & Fire Co near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as the Senior Safety Analyst.