Arizona police are investigating a tragic, perplexing attack that detectives say was unprovoked: 68-year-old Joan Sirhan was leaving her daughter’s house after a visit with her grandchildren when she was fatally attacked on Thursday. The suspect, Jay Henderson, appears to have posted threats of violence against Sirhan on Facebook that same night.
In a statement, Apache Junction police told The Arizona Republic that Sirhan was attacked around 5:30 p.m. at an apartment complex. That same evening, a Facebook account that appears to belong to Henderson posted cryptic but alarming messages, including “Got the bitch.”
“Short skinny red head witch burn her alive,” another post from the page adds. A final message includes an address close to the area police listed as the scene of the crime before adding, “I’ll be out side who’s ready.”
The Arizona Republic reports that Sirhan was unconscious when police arrived, with “extensive injuries to her face and head.” She was pronounced dead at Banner Desert Hospital.
Two accounts appearing to belong to Hungerford—the account that posted the threats and another he appears to have used before creating that account—include memes about conspiracy theories, and an image post about Free Masons, along with other random memes. The cover image of what appears to be Hungerford’s current Facebook account includes a woman in a Confederate flag bikini top.
Hungerford also shared an image of Trump-loving former Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke, which includes the quote “The phrase Black Lives Matter suggests racial superiority. It excludes the importance of anybody else’s life.” Another post he shared calls to support Native American firefighters.
Court records indicate that in 2012 Hungerford was found guilty of aggravated assault. Following Sirhan’s death, he was arrested and jailed with a $750,000 bond on suspicion of second-degree murder. His court date is set for Sept. 25.
An initial statement from police said Hungerford and Sirhan apparently had no contact before the attack. Apache Junction police didn’t responded to The Daily Beast’s request for further comment.
It appears the Sirhan family has faced tragedy before. In 2014, Joan Sirhan’s son, Jordan Sirhan, was killed in a road rage incident.
Jordan Sirhan was 23 when police said Kenneth Kammes shot him several times. A $200 debt dating back to 2013 had created problems between the two, and police said Sirhan and Kammes each threw cups of iced tea at one another’s windshields before Sirhan’s vehicle ran into Kammes. Kammes responded by firing up to seven rounds, hitting Sirhan three times, per the Associated Press at the time. Kammes was ultimately found not guilty of second degree murder.
Two of Joan Sirhan’s relatives mentioned her late son as they mourned her.
On Friday, Sirhan’s sister-in-law Evelyn Sirhan wrote on Facebook, “This morning we got the most horrific news. We lost My sister in law tragically in a [senseless] act.” Jordan, she added, was also “lost tragically.”
“I cant express the loss,” she continued in her post. “There are no words.. All I know is that she will be with her son again and her parents and i know that my dad are all waiting for her to come through gods gate. She endured much pain when we lost Jordan. Now we all suffer with this loss.”
“Joanie, you were always the life of the party,” Sirhan wrote. “Though [you] endured so much heartbreak [you] carried the brightest smile. I dont know why this happened to you, and unfortunately we may never know. you didn't deserve what happened to you. I know you are finally with Jordan and your heart is full. I will miss you dearly.”
Jessica Easterday, who called Sirhan her “second mamma,” wrote on Facebook, “This woman was the most positive and uplifting spirit I’ve ever met. She loved and lived with all she had, she was kind and giving. Though she endured so much heartbreak she carried the brightest smile.”
“I dont know why this happened to you, and unfortunately we may never know,” Easterday concluded. “Im sorry, over and over again I’m sorry... you didn't deserve what happened to you. I know you are finally with Jordan and your heart is full ! ... We love you so much, thank you for being a mom, a friend, a grandma to our babies.”