The bodies of a Ramona woman and her son who both vanished five months ago were discovered Monday night in a shallow grave in Ramona, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

An autopsy conducted by the San Diego County coroner’s office Tuesday confirmed that the bodies were those of Deborah Susan Cooney, 32, and her 7-year-old son, David Michael, who were last seen April 9, said Deputy Coroner Robert Grubb.

On Monday, after receiving an anonymous tip, deputies questioned Thomas Curby Henderson, 33, an unemployed equipment operator from Poway, said Sgt. Greg Reynolds. Henderson directed deputies to the grave site just north of the 22000 block of San Vicente Road in Ramona.

Henderson is being held without bail in County Jail on suspicion of murder, Reynolds said.

The autopsy revealed, Grubb said, that the boy died of a head injury; his mother apparently was choked to death.


The two were last seen after visiting a friend in Ramona. The car Cooney was driving that day was found 10 days later in the parking lot of a Ramona apartment complex.

The disappearances had been the focus of Crime Stoppers television commercials, which offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of the mother and son. Friends and family members had earlier posted a $15,000 reward hoping to locate them.