RIVERVIEW — Mark Hendley's stepdaughters want him remembered as a war hero.
An auto mechanic in his native England, he moved his family 13 years ago to Poplar Bluff, Mo., to give his stepdaughters a chance at a better life, they said. He joined the National Guard, they said, and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"He was literally living out the American dream," said Bobbie Rose Hendley, whose mother was his first wife.
It ended early Saturday, when Mark Hendley's second wife, Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, shot and killed him in their Riverview home, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He was 51.
Sabrina Hendley faces a charge of first-degree murder. She is being held without bail in the county jail.
Deputies said Mark and Sabrina Hendley argued, then a physical fight broke out, during which Mark Hendley repeatedly punched his father-in-law in the face, causing bruising. Sabrina Hendley followed her husband to a bedroom, where she demanded he apologize to her father, deputies said. When he refused, investigators said, she shot him once in the upper body, killing him.
Sabrina Hendley's father, Mike Irwin, told the Tampa Bay Times that his son-in-law was "hell-bent on violence" before the shooting. Irwin said Mark Hendley held a knife and dunked his wife and a friend in a swimming pool, keeping them below water so they couldn't breathe. Then, Irwin said, Hendley punched him in the face and choked him.
Bobbie Rose Hendley, 27, and her sister, Amie Calimlim, 31, said that's not the man who helped raise them. Both women now live in Virginia.
"Anybody that knows that man knows he wouldn't harm anybody," Bobbie Rose Hendley said. "He has a heart of gold."
Her stepfather was stationed in Indiana on active duty, according to his stepdaughters, but the family had purchased the Riverview home. He would visit as often as possible and planned to move down when he became a reservist, Bobbie Rose Hendley said.
She said her stepfather was slow to let people into his heart, but once he did, he showered them with love. She said he craved adventure, trying skydiving and snowboarding, and traveling. He instilled within her the same desire to see the world.
"The world is bigger than what's around you," he used to tell her. "Go visit. Don't be small-minded."
Mark Hendley never had biological children, but Sabrina Hendley had kids, and he was raising two of them, Calimlim said.
"He didn't need to have his own biological kids in order to feel like a father," she said.
Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Howard Altman contributed to this report. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or email@example.com. Follow @ByJoshSolomon.