Unknown Bennett Family Killer- Colorado- 1984 Oct 20, 2015 9:53:14 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Oct 20, 2015 9:53:14 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: Denver Post website)
Bruce Bennett was covered with blood as he climbed the stairs to defend his wife, Debra, and their two daughters.
But his earnest attempts to save his family were overcome by the ruthlessness of his attacker early on the morning of Jan. 16, 1984, 31 years ago today.
The cat burglar who entered home at 16387 E. Center Drive in Aurora armed with a knife and hammer had more on his mind than theft.
Before Bennett’s mother, Constance Bennett, discovered his body hours later inside his home, he had been cut and slashed numerous times and struck in the head with a hammer.
He had numerous injuries that could have killed him.
“It was quite clear he fought with the intruder,” said Ann Tomsic, deputy district attorney for the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office. “It’s apparent he had struggled with his attacker in more than one location and on more than one floor of the house.”
The 27-year-old man lost the battle with a killer who pummeled and sexually assaulted his 26-year-old wife, Debra, and 7-year-old daughter, Melissa.
The killer also shattered the face of Bruce Bennett’s 3-year-old daughter, Vanessa.
Though Vanessa’s jaw was crushed, sending jagged bones into her windpipe, she survived after her grandmother, Constance Bennett, checked on the family later that morning when they didn’t show up to work at a family-owned furniture store.
“It’s just like it was yesterday,” Constance Bennett said. “It’s something I’ll never get over. It’s scary what people can do.”
Vanessa went to live with Bennett after a lengthy series of operations that left scars on her arms, face and head.
An investigation in which more than 500 people were questioned did not uncover any leads to solve the case.
Constance Bennett said the killer could never compensate for what he did to her family, but he needs to be caught for the sake of justice and to stop him from repeating his crime.
Her son Bruce married Debra, then joined the Navy, she said. He served four years at Pearl Harbor between 1976 and 1980 as a sonar analyst.
After he got out, he moved his small family to Aurora and worked at a family-owned furniture store, she said.
“They led a very quiet life,” Constance Bennett said. “They worked hard and stayed home at night.”
Bruce enrolled in college and was trained as an air-traffic controller. He was excited about the prospect of getting an assignment at a local airport, his mother said.
The night before the deadly home invasion — a Sunday — several family members got together and had a birthday party for Melissa, who was going to turn 8.
Authorities believe that a man entered the home sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. on Jan. 16, 1984. Because police later found hammers in the family home, they believe the killer brought his own hammer or some other blunt object.
“It was a blitz attack for no reason,” said Marvin Brandt, who investigated the case as a homicide detective between 1984 and when he retired from the Aurora Police Department in 2002.
Bruce confronted the man on the stairs, investigators said. He had deep gashes on his arms and body. Blood that splattered and was smeared up and down the staircase marked the running battle.
Debra’s body was found in her bedroom, and Melissa and Vanessa were both found in their beds.
“I don’t know why anyone would beat a 3-year-old girl,” Constance Bennett said.
The case also was perplexing to scores of investigators who tried desperately to solve the case that terrified neighbors. It appeared to be a random crime.
The killer apparently had a “taste for violence,” authorities said.
There was no obvious motive. There was no sign of forced entry into the home. The killer had not taken anything from the home except the bloody knife used to slit Bruce Bennett’s neck and a purse, which was discarded in the front yard.
The contents of the purse were strewn across the snow, Constance Bennett said.
Investigators for years pursued tips that led them to deadly attacks in Florida, Ohio, Texas and California. But the triple homicide has never been solved.
Although the killer’s DNA was left behind, it has not helped authorities pinpoint who killed the family.
Police went to great lengths to solve the case, removing part of the concrete garage floor to preserve a shoe print. A laser was used to get fingerprints from inside the home.
But Tomsic said the prints were fuzzy.
Police found similarities between the attack at the Bennett household and nearby random attacks that happened days earlier along the Highline Canal and Alameda Avenue corridor.
On Jan. 4, 1984, a man snuck into an Aurora home and used a hammer to beat James and Kimberly Haubenschild. James Haubenschild suffered a fractured skull, and his wife had a concussion. Both survived.
On the same day, a man using a hammer attacked flight attendant Donna Dixon in the garage of her Aurora home, leaving her in a coma. Dixon survived.
On Jan. 10, 1984, someone used a hammer to strike 50-year-old Patricia Louise Smith several times in the head in her Lakewood home.
She died, and her murder has never been solved.
The hammer attacks ended after the Bennett home attack, however.
In June 2002, former District Attorney Jim Peters obtained a John Doe arrest warrant in the Bennett killings based on the DNA.
Peters charged John Doe with 18 counts, including three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of sexual assault, first-degree assault and two counts of sexual assault on a child and burglary. Tomsic helped file the case.
Although the DNA excluded all Bennett family members, it has not identified the killer, Tomsic said. It could be that if the killer is arrested for another crime in a state like Colorado, where all felons must be tested for DNA, a match will be made.
“Aurora police are still actively looking at the case,” Tomsic said. “It’s one that weighs heavily on the community.”
Contact information: Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Aurora Police Department at 303-739-6000.
Thoughts? As far as I know, this case has never been on AMW and/or profiled on another type of national crime show, which surprises me considering the sheer brutality of it. Unfortunately there are more questions than answers and in my opinion 31 years later our only hope really is DNA evidence. If the killer is already in jail for another crime and/or deceased, then it wouldn't help much though. I was looking at the WebSleuths board who are usually very excellent posters in making theories and investigations and even a lot of them seemed baffled by the case. They had good ideas as far as clues to look for, but I don't think we'll ever understand what the motive for this crime was unless the killer is ever caught or named.
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