APTOS -- A few pieces in the puzzle of a double homicide in rural Aptos came together Monday as authorities and friends of Joseph and Edith Henderson described their lives and a troubled son accused of killing them.
James Roland Henderson, 40, was arrested on suspicion of driving a car into Joseph and killing him outside their home on Ridge View Drive, said Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputy April Skalland. Edith called 911 after Joe was struck by the car. She was found dead in the home minutes later.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office identified the couple Tuesday.
"They were the kindest, gentlest, sweetest people," said a neighbor Roger Pase. "You couldn't want more for neighbors."
Edith was a retired software developer who also was the vice president of artistic advisory for the Santa Cruz County Symphony. Nicknamed Edy, she played violin with the San Jose Symphony Orchestra for many years.
The couple had lived on the 100 block of Ridge View Drive for about 11 years, according to neighbors. Their son, James Henderson, had lived elsewhere in Aptos in recent years and had a difficult relationship with his parents, deputies and friends said.
Neighbors said they saw James Henderson's car on the Ridge View property Sunday morning. Edith's 911 call was placed in her two-story home about 4:50 p.m. By the time deputies arrived, they were both dead, Skalland said.
Authorities have not said how Edith was killed or what motivated the homicides.
Deputies were familiar with James Henderson, who had an outstanding arrest warrant that stemmed from a felony vandalism case in 2012. They surrounded the neighborhood, where properties are 2 acres or larger.
They knocked on doors and described James Henderson, who is black and about 5 feet 11 inches tall and 220 pounds.
Around that time, an automated call was sent to residents in the area that advised them to lock their doors and report suspicious activity.
One of the Henderson's neighbors, 59-year-old Roger Pase, let a deputy search his home about 7:45 p.m. Pase then walked the deputy out and showed him a shortcut trail back to the Hendersons' property.
Pase's two horses were making noise in a corral near the trail. He turned around and looked at them, and saw James Henderson on the ground with his eyes closed.
Pase frantically waved at the deputy, but he didn't catch the deputy's attention initially. Pase finally yelled, he said, and pointed at the corral.
The deputy started back with his gun drawn.
About that time, one of Pase's 19-year-old twin daughters was walking to the corral with food for the horses. Pase was terrified that James Henderson might attack her.
"My daughter was literally 5 feet away from him on the other side of the fence. I called for (the deputy) and I called for her to get in the house."
She backed away, and the deputy approached James Henderson and ordered him to put his hands up. He was arrested.
"It was really spooky to find out this guy was on our grounds" a short time after the killings, said Pase.
It wasn't clear whether James Henderson was sleeping or pretending to sleep when authorities got him.
Deputies said Monday that James Henderson resisted during his arrest, but Pase said he didn't see a struggle. Pase thanked the deputies for what he called fast and professional work.
Joseph and Edith Henderson were the eighth and ninth people killed in Santa Cruz County in 2013.
Authorities said James Henderson has been in trouble with the law in the past.
In September 2012, he pleaded guilty to felony vandalism and two counts of misdemeanor vandalism, according to court records. He was sentenced to three years of probation, jail time and restitution.
Problems with his probation led a judge to issue an arrest warrant for James Henderson in the case on June 24, records state. Authorities also had served a search warrant at the Ridge View Road property in the past six months, but James Henderson was not there and his parents said he didn't live there, Skalland said.
James remained in Santa Cruz County Jail on Monday in lieu of $750,000 bail.
More information on Joe and Edith Henderson and a memorial service was not available on Monday. Deputies called their double homicide a "horrific situation."
"We feel terrible for the family," Skalland said. "It's awful."