Nicole Henry was days away from moving to the East Coast when her roommate found her in a pool of blood on a tile floor.
Chandler police are now investigating the 30-year-old woman’s Oct. 21 death as a homicide after an autopsy found that her head injury was not consistent with a fall, court records say.
The police report lists no suspects, Chandler police Detective Frank Mendoza said.
Henry’s mother, Brenda Henry of New Jersey, said her daughter postponed her move by a few weeks so she could help a cousin care for her baby.
“She was the one you could count on if you needed someone,” Brenda Henry said.
She said she spoke with her daughter late on Oct. 18, and they planned for the mother to fly to the Valley on Oct. 22 so they could return together.
Brenda Henry said her daughter had a prospective job lined up with the Maryland Department of Corrections.
She said she left a message with her daughter Oct. 20 and got no response, which worried her.
“She didn’t always call back right away, but she always called,” Brenda Henry said.
James Lemire, 59, had just returned from a business trip when he walked into his Chandler home and found Henry.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Lemire said Friday.
He said Nicole Henry was unemployed and planning her move when she asked if she could stay temporarily in his spare bedroom about six weeks before her death.
Lemire said he knew of no one who might have had problems with her because she kept to herself when he was home, and no one visited her.
Even when people would drop by, Lemire said his roommate would meet them outside.
“I didn’t know her very well and I didn’t push,” Lemire said.
Brenda Henry said her daughter, who went by “Nikki,” had an independent streak that came from overprotecting her after she was diagnosed with diabetes at 18 months old.
“She took challenges,” the mother said. “She was a determined person.”
Nicole Henry’s 28-year-old sister, Jamilla Henry, described her as fearless and a free spirit who could pick up and move to a different state on a whim.
“She was always smiling, always laughing. Silly,” Jamilla Henry said. “Always giggling about something.”