Woman who continues going mute during court appearances faces new charges of attacking jailer

Photo: Vanessa Henschel

A Briarcliff woman with a lengthy and growing history of attacking people both inside and outside the Baxter County jail will undergo another psychological evaluation.

Twenty-seven-year-old Vanessa Henschel, who has used her fists, a knife, a backpack and a tool used to clip tree limbs against her victims, appeared during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court last Thursday.

In late January, Henschel was locked up for attacking a homeowner at a residence along County Road 15 after using the man’s truck without permission to make a trip into town and back and for breaking into the home.

Late last month, while in jail on charges stemming from the January incident, Henschel was being escorted by a female staff member from one area of the detention center to another when the inmate, using her left fist and forearm, struck the jailer on the left side of her face and head.

The jailer recovered from the blow and attempted to restrain Henschel, but the inmate continued to be combative. After help arrived, Henschel was put in a restraint chair for a brief time before being returned to her housing area.

Henschel’s attack on the jailer resulted in charges of second-degree battery and impairing the operation of a vital public facility.

Henschel made a first appearance on charges stemming from the incident in the jail during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court last Thursday. A plea of not guilty was entered for Henschel since, as she has done in the past, she sat mute, staring blankly ahead during her court appearance. Her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Mark Cooper, said he had visited with Henschel at the county jail, and she had refused to speak with him.

In the January case, Henschel is charged with aggravated residential burglary, theft of property, aggravated assault, and third-degree battery.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a burglary at a residence along County Road 15 in late January.

The homeowner said he had arrived home to see his truck being driven up his driveway. He said he saw a female, later identified as Henschel, exit the truck and go inside the garage. He told investigators he went inside the garage and made contact with the woman.

After some conversation, Henschel is reported to have punched the homeowner in the head and then armed herself with a pair of “limb clippers” and attempted to attack him.

The homeowner went to a neighbor’s house to call 911.

The first Baxter County investigator on the scene recognized Henschel from previous encounters. The investigator asked Henschel what she was doing on the property. As opposed to her court appearances, she spoke to the investigator, telling him she lived there.

The investigator asked her where she had gone in the homeowner’s truck and she said she had been to “town and back.”

The homeowner and the investigator walked through the residence. They saw the window over the kitchen sink had been broken and blood was found on the sink and floor.

It appeared Henschel had helped herself to snacks and a soft drink and rested in one of the bedrooms. They also found dresser drawers had been pulled open, and $60 in cash was missing from a closet. The homeowner’s wife said items of her clothing and jewelry were also missing.

It was determined Henschel had been wearing some of the missing clothing and jewelry at the time she was arrested.

Henschel’s various attacks have been carried out against a variety of targets, including former friends, and even her own father.

She was arrested Feb. 2, 2016 after entering a room at what was then the Town and County Motel in Mountain Home and stabbing a former friend. Henschel was charged with first-degree battery.

According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, the victim’s boyfriend let Henschel into the room based on the past relationship between the two women.

He then went outside to retrieve articles from a vehicle when he heard screaming and ran back to the room. He told investigators he found Henschel astride his girlfriend stabbing her. The boyfriend struck Henschel knocking her off the victim.

The victim, who received non-life-threatening injuries, was stabbed in the neck and torso. She told police there was no conversation between her and Henschel prior to the attack. She said she was in bed and Henschel jumped on top of her and starting stabbing her, saying, “I’m sorry” during the attack.

Henschel underwent a psychological evaluation during the course of the stabbing case and was found fit to proceed. She spent 530 days in the Baxter County jail prior to being sentenced in that case.

Henschel has also been in trouble for punching her 62-year-old father. In mid-July last year, a Baxter County Sheriff’s deputy responded to an address along Bonnie Lassie Drive in Briarcliff to meet with Henschel’s relative.

The father reported earlier in the day his daughter had punched him numerous times on the side of the head and hit him in the face with her backpack. The father said he left the residence to get away from her.

When he returned home in mid-afternoon, he found his daughter gone and his flat screen television set damaged.

Henschel was located at an address along North Highland and taken into custody.

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