In a case that will likely include testimony about aliens, UFOs and a smashed vial of blood, a New Mexico fashion designer faces a potential death sentence if convicted of murdering a woman whose body has never been found.
Jury selection is under way in the bizarre case of Linda Henning, a 48-year-old Albuquerque woman whose friends insist was brain-washed, drugged, or both, by the victim's husband.
Bank teller Girly Chew Hossencofft, 36, was reported missing by concerned co-workers on September 10, 1999. The Malaysian-born woman told friends and an FBI agent in the weeks leading up to her disappearance that if anything happened to her they should immediately focus on her estranged husband, Diazien Hossencofft.
After her disappearance blood from several people was found in her apartment. Clothes and a gray tarp with her blood on it were discovered strewn on a remote stretch of highway.
Police built a circumstantial case against Diazien Hossencofft, 37, and he pleaded guilty to murder in January to avoid a potential death sentence for the abduction of his wife of seven years. But Hossencofft insists that Henning, his girlfriend, did not participate in the crime and that he inadvertantly implicated her when he used a vial of her blood to throw off investigators.
Henning, who has said she believes that the U.S. and other world governments are run by puppets controlled by reptilian-alien masters,
was indicted by a grand jury on 20 counts, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and perjury. A third alleged co-conspirator with militia ties was implicated by Diazien Hossencofft as the actual killer, but a grand jury indicted the man, 52-year-old Bill Miller, only on evidence tampering charges.
The grand jury apparently didn't believe Diazien Hossencofft where it concerned Miller but Henning's lawyers are banking that the 12 people who will sit for her capital murder trial will find reasonable doubt in his account of how her blood got into Girly Hossencofft's apartment. There is other physical evidence linking Henning to Girly Hossencofft's disappearance, but prosecutors conceded in motions that the "most damning" evidence is her blood.
"The Defendant's blood was found on the carpet inside Girly's residence and the skirt to Girly's couch. The Defendant's blood droplets were, as it turned out, interspersed on the carpet with droplets of Girly's blood," prosecutors wrote this month. "These blood droplets suggest a pitched battle occurred between the Defendant and 90-pound Girly Hossencofft inside that apartment." Hossencofft, however, claimed in lengthy police interviews after he pleaded guilty in January that blood matching Henning's DNA found in Girly Hossencofft's apartment was there only because an elaborate plan he engineered had gone awry.
Hossencofft says he agreed to let Bill Miller and his militia friends kill Girly Hossencofft because they needed to practice killing humans before the final showdown with the emerging "New World Order."
Hossencofft, who worked on a master's degree in biological chemistry, although he lacked an undergraduate degree, said he didn't know how his wife was going to be killed for certain but admitted it was his job to enter her apartment at a pre-arranged time and make sure no physical evidence was left behind. Instead, Hossencofft claimed, he entered the apartment and found that the killers "messed up." Blood that he presumed to be Girly's was evident and he had to do something about it.
Hossencofft is expected to tell Henning's jury, as he told police, that he drove frantically back to his own apartment in Henning's car (which he had borrowed earlier) for a refrigerated vial of an unidentified woman's blood with the intention of planting it in his wife's apartment to throw off investigators.
Often posing as a physician, which he is not,
Hossencofft stored blood as part of his research, according to what he told police. In any event, the self-styled scientist claims he thought that if he diluted blood from his refrigerator with acid and bleach police would only be able to conclude that there was blood from two women in Girly Hossencofft's apartment, but criminalists would not be able to sequence the DNA.
"The only problem was when I stuck the vial in my pocket and went to sit down, uh, it broke," Hossencofft is quoted in a 106-page transcript as telling police January 18. "The only other sequence of blood that I had was Linda's so I thought to myself, I have to make a quick calculation here ... I figured that the acid plus the bleach, uh, would degrade the sequence enough to give you female DNA but not a sequence to diagnose any one person."
Prosecutors called the explanation for Henning's blood being in the victim's apartment "an absurd, twisted account" designed solely to protect her. Hossencofft was sentenced to life in prison plus 61 years and is serving his sentence in Wyoming. If
Henning is convicted of first-degree murder, she could become the first woman sent to New Mexico's death row since capital punishment was re-enacted in 1985.
"It's a fascinating story. It's a bizarre story with alien queens and other sensational elements," said Mark Horner, an Albuquerque television news reporter who became so immersed in the case that he created an Internet site about it. "The flip side is it's a domestic violence case. He bragged to Girly that he'd have her killed and they'd never find her body. It's a classic story of a guy who couldn't have what he wanted.
What Diazien Hossencofft wanted, according to his police statement, was for his wife to drop any custody claim concerning his son, Demetri. The toddler was the product of an affair that Diazien had with a Japanese woman he met in Canada and Girly Hossencofft apparently never knew Demetri existed until Diazien showed up at home with the child after a trip to Mexico.
Despite his statements to the contrary, police have long suspected that Hossencofft wanted his wife dead to deny her a fair share of the marital property. There was also speculation that she knew too much about her husband, including the fact that he had been conning people for years.
He told Henning that he was a physician, ex-CIA scientist and had invented a cure for cancer. He told others that he was 2,000 years old, invested a youth serum and had genetically engineered his son.
Since his arrest, Hossencofft has admitted to being engaged to three women at once and to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from cancer patients for his "cure," which were in reality shots of vitamin B6.
Stephen Zachary of New York, a former boyfriend of Henning's, said she tried to sell him on Hossencofft's cancer cure within weeks of meeting him during the summer of 1999. Zachary, who has an inoperable brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, insisted on a resume after Hossencofft made a bold claim. "She put him on the phone with me. He says, 'I'm a doctor. I'll be able to cure all these problems you have,' " Zachary recalled.
After receiving a fax of Hossencofft's lengthy "curriculum vitae," Zachary gave it to private investigator Steven Trusnovec, a friend, to corroborate. Trusnovec said he sensed that Hossencofft was not as advertised as soon he saw the poorly organized document with numerous misspellings.
It took Trusnovec an afternoon to confirm what he suspected. Hossencofft was not a doctor, a medical school he listed did not exist, and the school he claimed to have his undergraduate degree from was a women's college.
"I told Linda, 'This guy's a conman. He's a fraud and he's trying to set you up,' " Zachary said.
Henning became belligerent, according to Zachary, and insisted that he had blown Hossencofft's "cover story" by having him checked out. Zachary said he was not sure exactly how bad a situation his friend was in until the letters started coming.
"This is a spiritual war as well as a physical one. The humans stored in cryo-stasis will have their souls (life essence) extracted and dissipated ..., " Henning wrote in all capital letters about a month before the disappearance of Girly Hossencofft. "The reptilians are led by a queen back on the moonbase. I know this sounds like sci-fi, but I was told the sci-fi stuff was created so in case this story ever gets out, no one will believe it."
Henning urged Zachary to obtain his cranial X-rays from his doctors so that they could be analyzed for signs of "small molecule crystals which can hear or see what you do." She claimed Hossencofft carved one out of his leg and further claimed that President Bush is a "full-fledge reptilian" who uses holograms to project a human face.
I find very interesting," Krueger said. "It is not your run of the mill homicide case. Our typical homicide involves young males involved in gangs or drugs. This case is far different."