U.S.

Most Wanted: One of America's 'Baddest'

Shauntay Henderson evidently loved her notoriety. A suspected murderer and member of Kansas City, Mo.'s violent 12th Street gang, she touted her gangsta cred with gusto on her MySpace page. When police announced that they were searching for her in connection with a killing last September, she referred to herself as "Girl on the News" and gloated, "Me the star on all yo local stations." A photo gallery shows shots of her titled "Baddest Bitch" and "The Real Tony Montana's." And in audio recordings, she raps, "Ghetto child raised in the fast life ... It goes down in the Killa City."

The law finally caught up with Henderson, 24. After seven months on the lam, she was arrested a week ago last Saturday on charges of second-degree murder and armed criminal action related to that September killing. But authorities suspect she was involved in much more: possibly five other murders and as many as 50 shootings. They also consider her partly responsible for fueling a recent rash of gangland killings. Henderson's alleged bloodlust even earned her a one-day appearance on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list alongside Osama bin Laden. That made her only the eighth woman to earn a spot on the list in its 57-year history. "It is very unusual for a female to rise to this level" in the gang world, says Christopher Budke, head of the FBI's criminal-enterprise squad in Kansas City.

Henderson grew up in the Charlie Parker Square housing project in Kansas City. Given her turbulent family life—her mother reportedly died when she was young and her father abandoned her—she turned to the 12th Street gang and its 51st Street affiliate at an early age. Authorities say she modeled herself on Steve Wright, a vicious 51st Street gang member now in federal prison. With her ruthlessness and penchant for high-powered weaponry—like assault rifles with 100-bullet clips—she became feared on the streets. Last September, she allegedly shot DeAndre Parker, 21, while he sat in a pickup truck with his girlfriend at a convenience store. When cops identified her as the suspect, she went underground.

But at some point, authorities say, Henderson resurfaced and orchestrated shootings that helped trigger a wave of gang warfare in the city. Budke says she was likely retaliating against rival gang members who testified against her mentor, Wright, at his trial. She may also have been exacting revenge for the killings of her two sisters in drive-by shootings, he says. Given the fear she inspired, police couldn't find anyone willing to rat her out.

Authorities finally got their break when they linked Henderson to an alleged drug dealer. After arresting him, police found her at his apartment, where she surrendered—though she first asked to fix her hair. At her arraignment last Monday, she seemed to relish the attention, smiling for the cameras and raising her cuffed hands in a salute on her way in (a judge entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf and scheduled her next court appearance for April 23). "Live by the gun, look where I'm at," she once rapped on her MySpace page. Look where she is, indeed.

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