A neighbor has been charged with arson for burning the trailer where former state Rep. Ashley Henley’s sister-in-law’s body was found around Christmas — the same property where authorities say Henley was gunned down on June 13.

READ MORE: Former Rep. Ashley Henley shot, killed outside home where sister-in-law’s body had been found

Assistant District Attorney Steven Jubera said that Billy Brooks, 42, who lived across the road from the burned trailer, was arrested Friday on an arson charge from the Dec. 26 fire. He has not been charged in the death of Kristina Michelle Jones, whose body was found inside the burned mobile home.

Jubera said investigation into the deaths of Jones and Henley is continuing and no further details are currently being released.

Yalobusha County Sheriff Mark Fulco issued a press release on the case, saying Brooks was arrested and charged with first degree arson and is being held in the Yalobusha County Jail without bond.

“This arrest is a result of the combined investigative efforts of the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, and the State Fire Marshall’s Office,” the release said. “… The investigations into the death of Kristina Michelle Jones on that date, and the subsequent death of her sister-in-law, Ashley Henley, on June 13, 2021, are active and ongoing. To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigations, there will be no further comment at this time.  As the investigations develop, information will be released as appropriate.”

Henley, who along with her husband had said Jones was murdered and publicly criticized what they said was lack of investigation by the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department, was herself shot and killed while cutting the grass at the property where the burned trailer was at 12 Patricia Drive in Water Valley. Henley and her husband had vowed to continue to push for justice in Jones’ case.

Henley, 40, a former school teacher and community college professor, served as representative of District 40 in DeSoto County from 2016-2020 and was vice chair of the House Military Affairs Committee and a member of the Education, Tourism, Workforce Development and Youth and Family Affairs committees. She lost her reelection bid in 2019 by 14 votes.


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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.