Woman accused of trying to burn down MLK home denied bond

The 26-year-old woman charged with arson after Atlanta police say she attempted to burn down the historic birth home of Martin Luther King Jr. will remain in jail.

Fulton County Magistrate Judge Holly Hughes opted on Saturday to deny bond for Laneisha Shantrice Henderson, citing her unstable place of residence and the nature of the crime.

"She gave an address in a different state. So I find that there is a likelihood that she may not return to court," Hughes said. "I'm extremely concerned about the randomness of this event. There does not seem to be any reason or tie to that particular location."

Henderson, 26, is accused of trying to set fire to the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., located on Auburn Avenue NE in the city's Sweet Auburn Historic District.

Laneisha Henderson (Atlanta Police Department)


Video shows Henderson dousing the plants, porch, and front door of the home with what authorities have said was gasoline.

Two retired New York City Police officers and two Utah tourists are being credited with helping to stop the intentional burning of what Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum describes as a "jewel of the city." They managed to detain the woman until police arrived after seeing her try to ignite a lighter.


Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry told FOX 5 with the fuel down, it could have been just a matter of seconds before the structure caught fire.

Henderson is charged with arson in the second degree and interfering with government property. She could also face federal charges.

Built in 1895, the MLK birth home, a framed two-story Queen-Anne style structure, has played a pivotal role in commemorating the early life of the civil rights icon and his siblings. It sits just blocks from the King Center, King National Historical Park, and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The home is currently closed for renovation.

While the home has undergone various renovations over the years, the current project is set to address major structural and system improvements, including electrical, HVAC, and fire suppression as well as structural enhancements including additional crawlspaces, window and door repairs, exterior siding and porch renovations, exterior painting, driveway re-paving, foundation re-pointing, replacement of the backyard fence, and drainage improvements.

Renovations are expected to extend until the end of 2025.