PAYNE SPRINGS, Texas - An East Texas mother is facing capital murder charges after confessing to killer her 5- and 7-year-old daughters overnight.
Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said 29-year-old Sarah Nicole Henderson is being held in the county jail. Her bond has not yet been set.
Hillhouse says there were two calls to family's home Wednesday night near the town of Payne Springs. The first call went to EMS about a suicidal woman. A deputy went to the home around 11:30 p.m. to investigate but did not find any cause for alarm.
Three hours later around 2:30 a.m., the sheriff says Sarah's husband, Jake Henderson, called 911 saying she had shot and killed the two children inside their rural Henderson County home.
When paramedics arrived at the home, they found 5-year-old Kenlie and 7-year-old Kaylee dead. Both the husband and wife were still at the home when deputies arrived. Investigators say Sarah admitted to shooting the children but did not offer a motive.
"The family was asleep -- other than the mother -- is what we're getting out of the investigation right now," the sheriff explained. "Of course, it's too early. We still have a lot of work to do. But, yes. He woke up and realized that she had shot the children and so he notified law enforcement."
The sheriff says Jake was interviewed at length at the sheriff's office and was released. SKY4 was over the home as investigators removed potential evidence, including what appears to be a rifle.
Neighbors across the street from the home say they often heard the mother speaking harshly to the little girls.
"She yelled at them constantly," said neighbor Jaylne Palmer. "We could hear her yelling and cussing at the girls. Terrible language. 'Get you're blah blah blah in here.' That was mainly why I never really met her because she just wasn't my kind of person."
Another neighbor says the family was struggling a bit financially and only relying on Jake's income. She said Sarah recently had some job interviews lined up and was stressed about finding a job, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Jessie Stewart's daughter, Nadia, was Kaylee and Kenlie's best friend.
"We liked to ride bikes together. We liked to paint," Nadia recalled. "We liked to color and we liked to... draw pictures."
"They were beautiful little girls inside and out," Jessie said. "They would always come to my house."
And while the questions about what happened are tough when Jessie picked up Nadia after school, she says giving an answer was even tougher.
"She said, 'Mommy, KK wasn't at school today. I think she was sick,' And all I could do was just hold back the tears and try not to break down in front of her," Jessie recalled. "I just told her that it's okay 'You have two beautiful angels right now -- guardian angels.'"
Hillhouse added they have had two calls since 2015 at the family's rural home, but neither calls were of any consequence one was a suspicious vehicle. CPS confirms they did have contact with the family back in 2011, but it did not provide any details of that contact.
Mabank ISD Superintendent Russell Marshall in a letter to parents said the girls were both Southside Elementary students. The oldest was in the second grade and her sister was a kindergartner.
The school plans to make counselors available for their classmates and teachers.