In front of her son

It was 1:30 am on Saturday. Tracy Bennawit, 33, along with her 14 year old son and her new boyfriend Adam Strickland were just arriving at Bennawit’s home.

Waiting in a wooded area near the home was Darren Bridgeman, 34, Bennawit’s ex-boyfriend. Bridgeman began shooting and Tracy Bennawit was killed, Adam Strickland was shot and injured. Bennawit was pronounced dead at the scene and Strickland was airlifted to the hospital where is reported to be in serious but stable condition.

Police say the attack was premeditated, that Bridgeman waited in that wooded area for them to come home.
And they say that the 14 year old boy did witness the attack.

Bridgeman left the scene and is not in custody. Police are searching for him at this time. Bridgeman is 5’8″, has a cleanly shaven head, and speaks with a British accent. He is believed to be armed and dangerous.

http://www.local6.com/news/9422169/detail.html

http://www.wftv.com/news/9422410/detail.html

http://cfn13.com/StoryHeadline.aspx?id=16716

One thing I usually try not to do is to visualize the scene. But this time I did.

1:30 am, the end of your day and you have just arrived home. Your defenses would be down, due to both the fact that you are tired and that you are now home.

It is dark. You get out of the car, suddenly there he is, then loud gunshots, maybe screaming, blood, then the sudden silence. And only one person left standing. A 14 year old boy/man.

He was left to call police. And in the minutes before they arrived, he was there with two people who had been shot. His mother dead, a friend injured. The minutes before help arrived must have seemed like hours. He was left to answer police questions, and to go over and over what happened in his mind, reliving what he saw that night. I cannot guess what he did after that. Did he sit in silence and shock when he wasn’t being asked questions? Did he sob with grief or cry silently? Those things I cannot guess.

But one thing I will guess at…..I would guess that while he sat there in grief, he wished that his mother could
be there to put her arm on his shoulder, to give him a hug. To hold him.

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Tracey Bennawit and Darren Bridgemann used to be engaged and the two owned a video game business. When the relationship broke up, she bought him out.

Tracey had sought and received a protection from abuse order the day of the shootings.

The 14 year old boy has gone to his fathers. His father has stated that he was shot at, but managed to escape.

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/23728

I believe this is the gaming site owned by Tracey Bennawit. It seems that Saturday night the center was hosting a ‘Charity Fight Night Tournament’ The proceeds were to benefit New Hope for Kids, a non-profit organization that works with kids dealing with grief.

http://www.kinetixgaming.com/events.php

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I have just come off a forum where I read a lot of responses about Tracy Bennawit’s death. And I have to say that I was amazed at the support, care, and concern those members showed for each other. They are angry, yes. But they are handling their anger very gracefully. And more than angry, they are determined. Determined that Tracy not be forgotten, and determined to help each other through the ordeal. Though most appear to be young, they seem more mature than many adults I know.

Through their words, and through their actions, Tracy became very real to me. And I could tell what a good person she was. And I think she would be very proud of them right now.

Tracy’s son and boyfriend also posted there. And her son seems like a young man that any Mother would have been proud of even before that night. And from what I read, he was more a man that night than a 15 year old boy. He did what was needed to be done and he did it well. I am not going to post his name or his nic……as I think he is entitled to his privacy. But if he ever makes it here, I want to let him know that he was a man that anyone would be proud to know and any Mother would be proud of.

Adam is out of the hospital, and seems to be doing well. Evidently his brush was more serious than what was published.

A memorial site has been set up in Tracy Bennawit’s memory: http://ftopro.com/tb/index.php

Still nothing yet on Bridgeman.  

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A partial transcript of the 911 call, and a testimony of the bravery of Tracy Bennawit’s son.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9444817/detail.html

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Seminole County has been planning to develop a domestic violence unit since 2004 and they have applied for a grant to help make it possible. With the most recent murders, Seminole County is now second only to Miami-Dade county in having the highest number of domestic violence related deaths.

But after Tracy Bennawit’s death, there is more urgency and they say they will go forward whether they get the grant or not.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9451539/detail.html

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Investigators now believe that Bridgeman planned his escape in advance. He is believed to have gotten in a plane headed for England on June 24, in Atlanta. The ticket was reserved on June 23, and paid for with cash in Atlanta 15 hours after the shooting. He had also withdrawn a large amount of cash from a bank before the murders. Bridgeman was picked up by a friend in England. Scotland Yard is now involved in the search.

Police are asking the public’s help in trying to determine how he got to Atlanta. They are asking anyone who may have come into contact with him to please contact the police. “He may have had blood on his clothes,” Martin said. “He may have had a weapon in his position that he discarded somehow. Any point that he traveled is a potential location for a witness to help us in finding out if he had accomplices who knew what he did.”

Allegedly Bridgeman left a suicide note in his home, but it is believed that may have been an attempt to throw police off his trail.

Police say that Tracy Bennawit was shot 6 times.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9472489/detail.html

http://www.local6.com/news/9474663/detail.html

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Steve Huff has now done an article on the murder of Tracy Bennawit at Crime Library.

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/original/0706/0602_darren_bridgeman.html

Police still looking for the gun used in the murder and for how Bridgeman got from central Florida to Alanta, Ga. Scotland Yard is involved in the search for Bridgeman, but it is not certain that he remains in England.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/seminole/orl-ontherun0606jul06,0,2676963.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-seminole

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More details on what occurred that night and what her son went through as Bridgeman looked for him.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17342770&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=manhunt–name_page.html

Darren Bridgeman has been reported to have turned himself in to authorities in England. He is being held on a provisional extradition warrant and is due in court on Fri.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/5156956.stm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-5935688,00.html

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Bridgeman appeared in court and he is refusing to consent to extradition. He will be taken back to court on July 13.

The authority from the US indicated to the court that when Bridgeman turned himself in to the Worchester police station, that was by prior arrangement.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/5159664.stm

Refusal to consent to extradition, this article says that he is due in court again on Thurs.

http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/breaking_news/14988300.htm

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The story of Adam Strickland’s miraculous survival. His dogtags were positioned over his heart at the time he was shot. They deflected the bullet, the bullet then hit his chest and went out of his arm.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17353333&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=-miracle-escape–from-us-shooting–name_page.html

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Bridgeman is due in Bow Street Magistrates’ Court in London where it is said he will appear via video link, on Thurs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/5174740.stm

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Bridgeman remains in the U.K. Grand Jury indited him for the murder of Tracy Bennawit and the attempted murder of Adam Strickland. He is fighting extradition.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006330319,00.html

http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060719/APN/607190608

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Tracy’s obituary

http://obits.lancasteronline.com/index.php?action=view&obit_id=1685007

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Bridgeman appeared in court in the UK on Aug. 11. Due back in court again on Sept. 7.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/4783759.stm

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Darren Bridgeman now in the U.S. in the Seminole county jail where he is being held without bail.

orlandosentinel.com

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Company president

Michael Lentz's family reported him missing shortly after Memorial Day in May. Lentz, 58, was a widower, his wife had died several years ago. He had three children. He owned a manufacturing business, and was known to travel to his other two homes and to Las Vegas.

Lentz had been having some financial difficulties, his home was in foreclosure and he had some federal tax lien's on his business in the past. Police initially did not suspect any foul play. The business was closed shortly after his disappearance.

Neighbors reported the last time they had seen him was around Mother's day. Investigator's twice contacted authorities in the county in Wisconsin where he had a home, and they reported they did not find anything suspicious.

Wednesday people who worked near his closed business began to complain of a foul odor. Police came to the business and found his badly decomposed body under some cloths in a garbage drum. Police say it is hard to pinpoint when Lentz died, due to the state the body was in. But it appeared that Lentz had been shot to death.

A murder investigation was begun, and Lentz's home and business was searched for clues. Police said it was not a random killing and they quickly zeroed in on a suspect.

Police have arrested Christy Lentz, 32, in the death of her father. She has been charged with 1 st degree homicide, concealment of a homicidal death and obstruction of justice. Police have recovered a gun they believe was used in the murder and are examining it for further evidence.

Police believe the two had had a dispute on the business property where Christy also worked. They believe that Christy had shot him and then cleaned up the scene and then later, along with her sister- reported their father missing.

The attorney for the business has said that earlier this year, Lantz had had papers drawn up making Christie the president of the company while he retained ownership.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=202012

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4301636

http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=202196

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-060623lentz,1,4578007.story?coll=chi-newsbreaking-hed

Police have said the full motive may never be determined. And that is the way it often is with family.

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 Authorities say that Michael Lenz was shot two times in the back of the head, while he was sitting in his office chair. He was killed about a week before Memorial Day. Authorities also have stated that Christy Lenz wrapped her father's body in plastic and duct tape, and that she attempted to set the garbage in the garbage drum on fire.

Bail has been set for Christy Lenz in the amount of $3 million dollars.

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4304783

No Crime

First of all I have to admit that there does not appear to be any crimes committed here. But the story is intriguing. And two families are very concerned and seem to be heartbroken. And even though there is no crime, the story is making national headlines. I first heard about it on The Early Show this morning.

Jennifer Malone picked her 8 year old son up at school on June 16. She said he had a dentist’s appointment. Then her husband realized that she hadn’t shown up for work that day. And he found out their bank account had been drained. The couple’s 10 year old son was in school as usual.

Prior to her disappearance, Jennifer Malone had just gotten a new job. She had been working as a trainee counselor at a school for children with behavioral problems and autism for about two weeks. Her husband Rodney Malone has said that he had changed recently. Says that she had switched from listening to country music to listening to hip-hop. And that she had started wearing low riding jeans.

In May Malone had been fired from her previous job. A parent of one of her students came home and found Malone with her 16 year old son, Christopher Cole. She called police. Division of Youth, Children, and Family Services is investigating those allegations. Hours before her disappearance, investigators had contacted Malone and requested that she appear for an interview on the following Monday.

Christopher Cole was last seen June 16, when he picked up his check at his job. Warrants have been filed for Cole.

There have been sightings and contact from the trio. One of their first contacts was with Cole’s grandfather. He is a truck driver, and the trio had met up with him in Illinois, on his route. He talked with them and says that he advised Cole to return home and gave him $100.

On Thursday, Rodney Malone received a package from his wife containing a short wave radio, and apology for taking  it. But no mention of the child. On Friday a friend turned two letters over to police that she had received from Malone. Witnesses have spotted the three in Tampa, Florida and said they appeared tired. The van owned by the couple has been found in Clearwater, Fla. It’s license plates were missing, and the plates have reportedly been spotted on two other vehicles.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2006/06/24/missing_boy_spotted_in_tampa/

http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060624/REPOSITORY/606240321

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Son+begs+mother+to+bring+his+brother+home&articleId=81415ee2-f8ce-4a40-ae0a-157626ab06bb

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Florida+sightings+may+lead+to+missing+New+Hampshire+trio&articleId=ef90f496-4084-4149-9fa2-73e28d56a7a1   (Pictures of Jennifer Malone and son at link)

Cole was 16 years old. Since he was over the age of consent, there is no crime there for any relationship he may have with Malone.

Malone was the other parent of the child who was taken from the school. As his guardian, she had the right to take him.

But the fact that there is no crime, doesn’t give the families any comfort. It doesn’t stop Christopher Cole’s mother from worrying about him, or Rodney Malone from worrying about his son and maybe even his wife a little bit. It doesn’t stop the 10 year old from missing his mother and his brother.

And of course it isn’t over yet. There are still issues to be dealt with over the relationship between a student and his school counselor. And questions about where they got the cars they have been seen in in Florida. Not to mention assisting a minor to run away from his home.

So instead of No Crime, perhaps I should say that charges are being explored.

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A bus station worker noticed a trio acting ‘strangely’ last week. He says the way they were acting strangely was that the two were ‘making out’ while the 8 year old watched. Over the weekend the worker saw the broadcasts about the missing persons reports, and when the three showed up at the bus station, he called police. Police stopped the bus they had gotten on, and now have them in custody. Rodney Malone has talked with his son on the phone and is making plans to go there and file for custody.

Police say the three had spent their nights between a Salvation Army and sleeping in the broken down van.

There is now a warrant for Jennifer Malone charging her with interference with custody, for taking Cole from the state without his mother’s permission. Police are also exploring to see if any other crimes have been committed. They want to talk with her about the other vehicles they had been reported to be in.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2006/06/26/search_continues_for_missing_boy/