Valley woman charged with murder indicted for corpse abuse

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

VALLEY – A Valley woman who was arrested and charged with the murder of her own mother in February has now been indicted on charges related to the abuse of the corpse.


Heather Lea Christensen, 43, was indicted on Tuesday, Sept. 11 for the posthumous mutilation of the corpse of her mother, Frances Jane McDonald, who was 79 at the time of her death.

“The abuse of corpse charges came after the murder was committed,” Valley Police Maj. Mike Reynolds said. “Miss Christensen attempted to, I guess you would say, ‘do away’ with the body. She tried several different methods in order to hide what had happened.”

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Reynolds said that Christensen had attempted to burn the body before making attempts to dismember it. Originally only charged with murder after admitting her actions to police, the indictment and secondary charge came from the Chambers County grand jury.

“We arrested her on murder,” Reynolds said. “Those were the original charges and the grand jury tacked on the additional abuse of corpse charges.”

In the initial incident on Feb. 13, police arrived at the 2400 block of 36th Street in Valley at approximately 3:30 p.m., according to previous police reports. Once on the scene, police interviewed Christensen after discovering the body of her mother. She admitted to killing her mother and was subsequently charged with murder. An autopsy later showed that McDonald was killed by blunt force trauma.

Christensen was taken to the Chambers County Jail in LaFayette following the February charge before members of her family paid her bond, according to Reynolds.

According to the jail, Christensen was booked at 12:47 p.m. Tuesday after turning herself in following this week’s indictment. Shortly thereafter, she was released on an own recognizance, otherwise known as an O.R. bond, meaning that she agreed in writing to appear in court for all upcoming proceedings.

Her arraignment for both the murder charge and abuse of corpse charge will be Sept. 17. A plea day has been set of Oct. 10 and trials for both charges are set to begin Nov. 5.