Investigation Discovery’s ‘Evil Lives Here’ is a true-crime series that explores those harrowing cases wherein the victims’ loved ones — people they knew and trusted — turned out to be their heinous perpetrators. It thus involves firsthand accounts of the critical moments leading up to the dark offenses, along with dramatic re-enactments, to truly get to the heart of what precisely transpired and why. So, of course, it’s season 6 episode 4, ‘Until We Meet Again,’ profiling the 2011 double homicide of Amy Henslee and Tonya Howarth, is no different. Here’s all that we know about it.
How Did Amy Henslee and Tonya Howarth Die?
In the afternoon of January 24, 2011, a stay-at-home mother of two, Amy Henslee, was reported missing by her husband, James, after she failed to respond to his calls and meet their sons after school. The 30-year-old former department store employee didn’t have a personal cell phone, but it was highly uncharacteristic of her not to be there for her kids or even leave home without informing anyone beforehand. After all, as per James, she rarely went outside alone in suspicion of strangers, let alone open up the front door for them, leading to the start of an extensive search for her.
With no signs of a forced entry, a locked home, and just a missing Amy, there was not a lot of initial information to go off of, yet owing to the officials’ dedication as well as sniffer dogs, she was found three days later. It wasn’t in the way anyone had hoped for, though, because her body, alongside that of Tonya Howarth’s, was recovered from a shallow grave off County Road 687 in rural Van Buren County. Tonya was a 36-year-old unmarried mother of two herself, whose daughters were not living with her at the time, meaning that she hadn’t even been reported missing.
Both women had been shot to death, according to their autopsy reports. While Amy took one bullet each to her chest and her left thigh at close range, Tonya was shot point-blank to the back of the head and behind her right ear. Along with that, not only did Amy have bruises on her arms and legs due to an altercation/struggle right before her death, but the report also stated she had Xanax and marijuana in her system. Coming to Tonya, her toxicology tests showed traces of methamphetamine, amphetamine, and nicotine, and her kneecap likely shattered after her tragic demise.
Who Killed Amy Henslee and Tonya Howarth?
The man responsible for Amy Henslee and Tonya Howarth’s murders is none other than the former’s husband’s cousin and the latter’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Junior Lee Beebe. As per official documents, the mixed-martial arts fighter had arrived at the Henslee home at around 9 a.m. on that fateful day, following which Amy had willingly gone with him to his trailer in Bangor Township. They’d been having an illicit affair for about a year and a half (which no one close to her believes), according to Junior, so they settled in, only to begin kissing after smoking a bit of marijuana.
That’s when Tonya unexpectedly showed up, Junior stated upon being questioned by detectives after they’d come across traces of blood inside his trailer during a search on January 27, 2011. He added that she reacted to the situation badly, going as far as to grab his shotgun from near the kerosene heater and wave it around. She was allegedly the one who shot Amy before turning the gun on him, if his statements are to be believed, driving him to fight for the weapon’s control and then fire at her to kill in “self-defense.” However, their injuries suggest that things could’ve also gone differently.
Junior had initially told investigators he’d last seen Amy alive two weeks prior — when he’d handed her 10 Vicodin pills — but he changed his narrative to the one above as soon as they mentioned the blood. “I shouldn’t have, but I covered it up,” he ultimately declared. “Covering them up was a huge mistake. I should have called. I ain’t a bad person. I ain’t a murderer. That ain’t me.” This “confession” came around the same time a volunteer group with tracker dogs uncovered the shallow grave holding Amy and Tonya’s remains by Junior’s trailer. He was thus arrested and officially indicted.
Where is Junior Lee Beebe Now?
Junior Lee Beebe stood trial for the charges against him in early August of the same year, and it only lasted for a little more than a week before he was found guilty. With the evidence of his victims’ wounds, along with claims of his actions being premeditated owing to the cover-up, he was convicted of second-degree murder in Amy’s death and first-degree murder in Tonya’s. The jury did ask if they could only consider the lesser charge of accessory to murder in the former, but that wasn’t allowed by the State of Michigan.
He was also convicted of two counts of felony use of a firearm. Therefore, having been sentenced to two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, plus two years each for the firearm charges, Junior remains behind bars. At 45, he’s currently incarcerated at the medium-security Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan.