Updated: Mar 4
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Written by Raven Rollins. Edited by Mandy McNeely.
Sheila Anne Deviney
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.
However, Sheila's perfect world soon deteriorated into a nightmare of brutality, perversion, drug abuse, and cruelty. In each city where they lived, according to her family, Sheila had to witness the unparalleled criminal behavior of her husband, Tyson Hendrix. She spiraled deeper and deeper into substance and alcohol abuse 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 she 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 herself and her children. On November 18, 1997, Sheila filed for divorce after five years of marriage, ending in bitterness and a contentious child custody battle. It was at this time that she and her parents thought it best that 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 house and let Sheila and her children move into the original one. She and her parents felt she was much safer being closer to them.
On February 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. However, it was to be short-lived.
On December 28, 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 completely rehabilitating herself from substance abuse, she returned to college. Sheila had gotten an associate degree in science from Murray State College in Oklahoma and was working 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 30, 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, which might be lost due to the moral clause regarding child support issues. Tyson either was not aware of this clause or did not think the court would approve the modification, but from there, no child support was ever paid. Tyson was held in contempt of court on several occasions, did not show up to court on several occasions, and filed several motions to modify the agreement. He was held in contempt on:
August 7, 2001 - Contempt
July 23rd, 2002 Contempt
September 5, 2002 – Bench Warrant for Failure to Comply with Order
During this time, Sheila remarried 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. However, she was dismissed upon their mutual agreement and filed for divorce in February 2009.
Finally, continuance after continuance filed by Tyson they were heard in court on September 22, 2003. Full custody of the kids was granted to Sheila and 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 January 5, 2004. When Sheila showed up at the courthouse, she was informed that the date had been moved to January 27.
On January 6, 2004, only three 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 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 9:30 am and notices nothing suspicious. He states he did not see any vehicles, smoke, or fire then. He also says 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 smoldering around 10:08 am. She stated she was driving by when she saw the smoke and stopped at the house. She opened the front door; the front wood door was already open. She said she saw no flames inside but greenish-gray and red-colored smoke. She called Allen Green, then 911.
Others, Brandy Green and Rita Green, called 911 at 10:20 am. 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 returned to the front and stepped inside, but the smoke was too thick, forcing him back out. He saw flames and smoke coming out of the south windows of the mobile home. The Maysville Fire Dept. arrived on the scene at 10:25 am. The first fire truck arrived at 10:30 am. Lindsey Fire Dept. also responded. By 11:30 am, 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 did not even know it. I couldn't feel anything," said Susan Deviney.
Susan Deviney could not 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.
"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 was not 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 firefighters. She was burned beyond recognition.
The Garvin County Sheriff's Office did not initiate an investigation. State Fire Marshal's Office deduced that a melted pan was the primary 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. However, it refused to reveal the procedure's results for over nine months.
The morning of the fire, Susan Deviney called Tyson Hendrix at his place of employment at the time, Bruce Jones Construction in Lindsay, Oklahoma. Bruce Jones' sister, Lori Hunter, answered the call and told Susan Deviney that
Tyson Hendrix and his brother, Donald (Donnie) Hendrix, had left together early that morning for the day. Tyson Hendrix and Donnie Hendrix came to the scene of the fire. Later that afternoon, Joann Sellers, a detective from the Oklahoma Fire Marshall's office, came to investigate. She spoke very little to people at the scene other than Tyson Hendrix and Donnie Hendrix. She casually talked with them as she sat on the tailgate of a pickup and smoked cigarettes while she visited.
On the morning of the murder, Tyson Hendrix was reported to have been seen by two separate individuals in Maysville, Oklahoma (about 12 miles east of Lindsay, Oklahoma). Sheila's home is about two miles east of Maysville in a rural location). He was seen by Johnny Tyler of Maysville and by Kim Clagg of Maysville. As of September 2004, the OSBI has not yet questioned these two individuals.
The Liquid Propane Gas Inspector came to the location to observe the damage within 24 hours of the blaze. He suggested this was a case of arson. (Family Statements)
The burned-out trailer and any evidence it contained were demolished the next day. According to the Devineys, Tyson Hendrix insisted on bulldozing what was left of the home. At about 7:30 am on January 8, 2004, just two days after the fire, Tyson Hendrix and Donnie Hendrix were at the scene with a dozer from Bruce Jones Construction to tear down the remains of the home. Tyson says he did not want his children to see the remains, and Sheila's parents' house is next door to where Sheila and her children had resided. The grandparents wanted the children with them for comfort and to be a part of the arrangements for flowers, etc., for their mother. Before they could even agree, he was there with the dozer. Neighbors also pitched in to help remove the debris and to search for anything salvageable.
One neighbor said Tyson seemed nervous. "He was running the backhoe just extremely erratically. In addition, 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 the little evidence they had from the scene, including photographs showing 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 to 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 flammable fluids splashed around her and soaked into spare clothing packed tightly against her. Sheila was made into a human torch by person’s intent on erasing all evidence of her existence. She was alive when the flames engulfed her.
Just months after the fire marshal's office reported the incident being an accident, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation lab technicians 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 firefighters 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 that becomes a vapor when exposed to air at room temperature. Toluene vapor has a sharp or sweet odor, 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 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 include 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 flames, sparks, or other ignition sources can ignite its vapors. (OSHA)
Benzene is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum and is found in gasoline and other fuels. Benzene is used to manufacture 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. Heat, sparks, or flames will easily ignite the agent. 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 information has multiple errors. It 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 a homicide.
Going over these reports with my medical experts, our theory is (for the amount of Toluene in her lungs, her car oxyhemoglobin at %18, which should have been closer to %80 or more to have died from the fire, and she was conscious the whole time) there is a significant possibility that a chemical incapacitated her - 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 as well as her, and light it on fire. She most likely would not have woken after this, causing her to burn alive, yet unconscious. Someone did, in fact, pack clothing around her and doused them. Her mother states the home was emasculated at the time because she had just helped her clean from top to bottom for head lice, and everything was in its place, especially the clothing.
Since childhood, Jessica Evans, Deviney's friend, 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 did not 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 had taken it more seriously.
Sheila's sister-in-law, Betty, had also stated that when she called Tyson at work on the day of the fire to tell him about it, the receptionist said he was not there. However, he had claimed to be at work to the fire marshals. Hendrix's supervisor said he left the job 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 pulled in," Beck said.
We also found an old resume Tyson sent to a prospective employer in '92. His work experience is jarring.
In his hand, he notes he was currently working at Oklahoma Safety & Fire Co near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as the Senior Safety Analyst.
Oklahoma Fire & Safety is a Fire Protection Service company serving the Oklahoma City metropolitan and surrounding areas. They specialize in helping businesses meet code requirements and comply with O.S.H.A., N.F.P.A., and State requirements. They offer fire extinguisher inspections, recharges, and other fire extinguisher services. Their technicians are licensed by the State of Oklahoma and certified by the State Fire Marshal.
With that information, there is a high chance that Tyson knew the Fire Marshall who worked Sheila's case, even before the fire took place, or at least knew someone in the office.
The plethora of new evidence made Sheila's parents push for a grand jury.
An agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation later told the Deviney family that his agency knew who carried out the arson and murder of Sheila Deviney but would not act on the information for lack of tangible evidence, even though the reports of other agencies were ultimately amended to reflect an arson and murder.
Sheila's notice of death is recorded in her Divorce documents, entered January 21, 2004, 6 days before the court date listed for the back child support hearing.
As the controversy progressed, the Deviney family ultimately spent a year and thousands of dollars petitioning for a grand jury in Garvin County. Over 500 signatures were present on the document, and the Grand Jury finally convened in 2006.
Sheila Deviney's ex-husband, Tyson, his wife, and his brother invoked the Fifth Amendment under oath. No bills of indictment were handed down.
Following the Grand Jury report dated March 13, 2006, Garvin County Grand Jurors mentioned that the investigation into Sheila Deviney's death was not as entirely or thoroughly conducted as they would have liked and further that the jury could not suitably account for all the items and material removed from Sheila Deviney's residence. Their final recommendation was for the Garvin County Sheriff's Office, the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal's Office, the State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to continue their respective investigations into this matter.
The Deviney family has been stonewalled at every turn. In 2009, a second Grand Jury was convened via citizen petition in Garvin County regarding the suspicious death of another local man involving many of the same law enforcement officials. Sheila Deviney's family applied to have her case revisited before that jury citing previous evidence and newly discovered material. The Grand Jury declined to hear the matter.
Even with an amended death certificate, a completed autopsy report, an amended Fire Marshal's report, and a Grand Jury report all specifically indicating murder by arson, the local Sheriff's Department and the OK State Bureau of Investigation have yet done nothing, and a killer has gone free.
In 2012, The Devineys filed a civil suit to get evidence released. It was granted, and they currently have it for safekeeping in case new testing should need to be done.
OSBI Special Agent David Gatlin is handling the cold case now.
"I'm going to go with an open mind and see where the evidence leads us," Gatlin said.
With a focus on advancements in technology, especially with cell phones, Gatlin said he is working on getting phone records that were sealed by the grand jury. The OSBI will not know whom they are targeting, but investigators hope to make an arrest soon. If they do, we will update the story here and on the show.
While some of the circumstantial evidence, in this case, is overwhelming, there is always a chance that anyone out there could have done this to Sheila. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
If you have information regarding the death of Sheila Deviney, please get in touch with us immediately. You can put an anonymous tip in our SIRENS tip box on our website at www.thesirenspodcast.com/contact or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact us via Facebook Messenger from our page, or you can contact the Justice for Sheila Deviney Facebook page as well. Your tips may be the difference between justice and letting a murderer go free without consequences for their actions.
Activists from within Garvin County, bound together by circumstance and outrage, have joined forces. With recent changes in Oklahoma law, national scrutiny has been placed on the death of Sheila Deviney. New conclusions have been drawn. Further, additional suspects have been named. Witnesses previously afraid to come forward have discovered new courage to do so.
An outraged group of business owners from Garvin County and elsewhere has pledged their support for the Deviney family in their search for Sheila's killers. $50,000 will be paid in cash for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for the premeditated murder of Sheila Deviney.
"The worst thing is that whoever did this is probably someone I know, said Davy Deviney, 32, Sheila Deviney's brother. “This was not just some random murder. This was personal. Now, whenever people come up and talk to me, I do not trust them.
"I know that's terrible, but it's the truth."
NEW STORIES AND BLOGS REGARDING SHEILA DEVINEY:
The Medical Examiner's threat to destroy Sheila Deviney's tissue samples adds to the controversy. (REMOVED)
Larry Rhodes invokes the outstanding issue of Sheila Deviney's death and others in his successful campaign for Sheriff.
The Sheila Deviney case is recapped with a panel of domestic violence experts.
Read Domestic Violence Expert Susan Murphy-Milano's Blog on the deficiencies in Garvin County Law Enforcement as she supports her latest book, Time's Up!
Read the blog surrounding Sheila Deviney and the lackluster performance of the local officials on the Women in Crime Ink website.
Sheila Deviney's case and the establishment of Garvin County is discussed on national radio.
The Crime Wire team discusses the repeated instances of suspicious death in Garvin County Oklahoma.
The Deviney family and others cooperate with a statewide expose on the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's practices.
Susan Deviney, Sheila's Mother - Documents & Statements
Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still a Mystery: Murdered in Broad Daylight’
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