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.

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.


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.

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.


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:

Still nothing yet on Bridgeman.  


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


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.


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.


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

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.,0,2676963.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-seminole


More details on what occurred that night and what her son went through as Bridgeman looked for him.–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.,,-5935688,00.html


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.

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


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.–from-us-shooting–name_page.html


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


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.,,2-2006330319,00.html


Tracy’s obituary


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


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



  1. Cathy said,

    June 26, 2006 at 2:19 am

    It’s a horrible thing for anyone to witness, I can’t even imagine what this young man feels. I don’t know how you can read and write this stuff everyday? I’m very grateful that you do, but it must be hard having to try and process all these terrible crimes.

  2. June 26, 2006 at 5:15 am

    Some of them are very hard. Some of them I really have to work hard not to visualize. On those I try to focus on the more technical aspects of writing them, focusing more on correctness and less on what happened. But still, some get to me. But some leave me with the feeling of ‘there but for the grace of God, go I’.

  3. iknewher said,

    June 26, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    I knew all three of the people when i lived in florda…and the news people dont even tell you about how she just got back from her work (internet cafe) who held a charty event… and I knew her and she was EXTREMELY a nice person and its so sad that this happend no one deserves that and hope she lives a happy life in heaven

  4. June 26, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    I have just been reading a little more about her. She sounds like she was a really fun person. And you are right, this shouldn’t have happened to her. Or to anyone.

  5. Randi Cunningham said,

    June 28, 2006 at 3:05 am

    I also wanted to say that the photos of Tracy and Adam that made the papers were weird – these two people are (were) wonderful, sweet, and gentle human beings. My son LOVES Kinetix where Tracy ran a fun and friendly business for all ages.
    I continue to pray for her, her son and Adam

  6. Anonymous said,

    June 28, 2006 at 5:04 am

  7. Ahpsi said,

    June 30, 2006 at 2:21 am

    I was touched when I read your words on visualizing the scene. My son went through all you describe and more – his description of events horrifies me. There are a few pages up for Tracy now – it was all I could do to post the images I have of her life here ->
    Know that he is the strongest kid I know and he will be OK, in time.

  8. June 30, 2006 at 3:33 am

    He is a son to be proud of, as I know you are. He is going to be a good man someday soon. Tell him I wish him the best in life. And thank you for leaving the additional links about Tracy. I am very sorry that this violence came to your family.

  9. herge smith said,

    July 15, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    I sat next to Darren at school. I can barely remember him. I wonder how he got to twisted up with hate/ rage that planning to murder that poor woman seemed like the best thing to do? He didn’t learn that at the Chase High School in Malvern.

  10. July 15, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    No Herchel, this is something they don’t teach in school. Did you remember if he got in trouble at school?
    Does anyone know what happened in court this week? I have been checking and cannot anything in the news.

  11. Herge Smith said,

    July 17, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Hi – No, he never ever did – in fact he was the exact opposite of what you would expect from the coverage of the murder and his photo.

    He was a very very studious kid – but not a particular nice kid. He was a really creep (which in UK vernacular means he studied ALL the time – and he’d grass you up to teachers if you did anything he didn’t approve of).

    I really didn’t like him because he was always held up to me as a great example of what one could achieve if you studied hard enough.

    He was from a very middle class home and I also believe he was a Christian.

    My best friend and I also recall that he was a little highly strung – he did well at school, not through having a great deal of intelligence but rather because he worked hard.

    The funny thing is, when I wrote that comment above I really couldn’t work out who he was – and then my local paper published a picture of him this Saturday of when he was teenage and I was shocked by who it was – I just hadn’t put the boring little teachers pet that he was together with name. So strange…

    Evil shit that he became.

  12. July 17, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    Do you know what happened in court last week? And is there a link to the article?

    With that type of history, I wouldn’t have thought that kid would grow up to be the type of man who would someday shoot his former girlfriend and her friend.  

  13. July 17, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    I have found a brief mention in a blog that Bridgeman has returned to the US.
    No other info given.

  14. RAKKIM said,

    July 18, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    Aside from how Bridgeman grew up, where he went to school or church…he is a sick person. He will never suffer the way he’s made Tracy’s family and friends suffer. My hope is that he never sees the outside world again. Anyone who would subject a 14 year old to this gruesome act deserves only the worst. A selfish beast he is.

  15. Hotpockets said,

    July 20, 2006 at 4:51 am

    I am the owner of and the creator of the Tracy memorial page.

    Thank you for posting my page on your website… I wish to spread my page to everyone who knew her. She was a role model to me and a great person.

    Please spread my memorial page around to everyone who knew her. Thank you again and I wish to know how it is going over there as well. I have heard nothing since he was fighting extradition.


  16. July 20, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Hotpockets, this is just a guess. But I have seen this done before. Many times they will fight extradition in order to try to make some deal about possibile sentence’s. I suspect that may be happening, but of course don’t know for sure. Will it work? I don’t know. But it is often part of the legal posturing when a person excapes to another country.

  17. Caelin Bennawit said,

    July 21, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    Hey… this is her son… caelin it has been hard for me…. and im so srry it happend

  18. July 21, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    I know who you are. Caelin, I know it is hard for you. And I am so sorry it happened to you and to her. I wish there was something I could say that would make it easier, but there isn’t really. About the only thing I can say, is that as hard as it may be at times, you will make it through this. And while it won’t get any better, you will grow used to it. And you will survive and you won’t forget her.
    I can tell from what I have read about your Mom what a fine lady she was. And from what I have read about you, I know she would have been so very proud of you. Even before this. You are a good young man, Caelin. And I am so very sorry this happened.

  19. July 21, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    Hey Caelin? Remember that thing you used to do that made her grin (every Mother and son has at least one thing). When you find it hardest- think about how she looked then.

  20. July 22, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    Hotpockets, I forgot to tell you that I was proud to link to your site. Because of the kind of woman that Traci was, her committment as a mother and her committment to other kids is very apparent. But there was more. The committment of her friends was and is amazing. Not only because of your committment to make sure Traci is not forgotten, but also because of the caring and concern I see you all express for each other and for her family. Linking to your site was an honor.

  21. Hotpockets said,

    July 22, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you. I really appreciate it. Waiting for news on his extradition seems like I’m waiting for a year to pass by….

  22. July 23, 2006 at 2:32 am

    Unfortunately, the it takes a while to go through the process. It isn’t quick.

  23. Jacob said,

    August 1, 2006 at 1:33 am

    i am a close friend of the son caelin… i was browsing to look for details of the murder, i am glad that darren was cought… but i dont understand what could have drove this man to such madness, i went to disneyworld with darren, tracy, and her son caelin… and that was the last time i’ve seen any of them

  24. Jacob said,

    August 1, 2006 at 1:34 am

    i was devastated when i found out

  25. August 1, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Jacob, you aren’t alone. It is always hard to understand how or why a murder occurrs. The big question that is usually never answered is why them.
    Tracy was well loved, a caring productive person. Bridgeman, as far as I can tell was not prone to violence, before their split. What changed, probably no one can say for sure. Loss of Tracy or loss of the business? Some people do not handle change or loss very well. But if that was the reason, I have no way of knowing. The only thing I do know, is that it never should have happened.

  26. A Friend said,

    August 11, 2006 at 12:48 am

    It’s a shame. I’ll keep the family in prayers.

  27. Beverly said,

    September 12, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    Hi, I’m Jacob’s mom, and was good friends with Tracy. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for keeping up with this story. It helps to know that there’s one single place I can go to follow what happens to Darren. I loved Tracy very much and love Caelin like another son. The tragedy doesn’t end with our loss of Tracy because it’s not likely that Jake and Caelin will be spending any more summers or holidays together like they once did… I pray that their friendship will be able to withstand the great distance throughout the years. I have to apologize for rambling on. I still have moments, as I did today, when I think of somthing that I want to share with Tracy and realize, yet again, that she isn’t going to answer the phone. So, I come here to catch up in a wierd sort of way. Your site is a cathartic place to put it all into perspective, again. Thank you, again, for all your work.

  28. September 12, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Beverly, I has been a pleasure. Not because of the circumstances but because of you and the others. I wish we could have ‘met’ another way. I have read about Tracy and about how much she was loved, and how much she did with and for the kids. So when these kids come in here, and they are so polite and so caring- I know that has been from the influence of you, Tracy, Adam and others. That makes the loss even more bittersweet. For Jake and Caelin, with cell phones and computers they will be able to keep in touch. Encourage them to take a lot of pictures of their activities that they can exchange. Then when they are able to visit, they will already know something of what the other is doing.
    I try to keep up with what is going on with Bridgeman, but not much is coming out of the UK. I hope you all will let me know if you hear anything. And come here anytime- to talk or not.

  29. Susan Manno said,

    September 15, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    I am Tracy’s mother. I want to thank all of you for caring so much about her and Caelin and Adam. Darren was to have had an extradition hearing September 07th. It is now September 15th and I have received no word. If anyone hears anything at all please post it here. Thank you so much.

  30. September 15, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    Susan, thank you. Not just for your comment, but also for your graciousness, and for raising such a wonderful daughter.
    Periodically I run Bridgeman’s name several ways to see if anything new comes up (by necessity I don’t do that as often as I used to). But I am not seeing anything new.
    I don’t have much knowlege about the extradition process, but I believe it can go on for a long time- with him going to court periodically to tell the court that he is continuing to fight it or not.
    I know that puts a kink in the justice for the family and friends. But I think that as long as he is held for extradition- he cannot apply for bail, he cannot fight for his ‘innocence’, and he has no prospects of getting out. Basically, he is in jail until he agrees to face the charges.
    Under our law, in court Bridgeman is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. But the same standards do not hold for friends and family. And they have Adam and Caelin’s statements and they know what happened, they do not need a courts affirmation.
    So Bridgman being held in jail in the UK, still accomplishes much the same thing that a court sentence would give him. And sooner or later, the suspects usually give up and will eventually agree to face the charges.
    This is my opinion only, and it has no basis in fact- but I suspect that this may be an attempt to get the maximum penalty off the table. If that is the case, then the prosecutors will have to hold firm and the family may have to either have patience or discuss compromises.
    Also, when they hold an extradition hearing and nothing is heard, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes they don’t announce the agreement to the extradition until the suspect is already in the US jail, in order to make sure that their placement into incarceration in the US goes smoothly. Or sometimes it just means that still haven’t agreed. So only time will tell.

    In the meantime, I hope that you and your family are doing ok. I know you have had a lot to cope with lately.

  31. Hotpockets said,

    October 16, 2006 at 12:38 am

    Has anyone heard anything lately?

  32. October 16, 2006 at 1:19 am

    Nothing Hotpockets. I was hoping you were here to give me good news. How are you all doing?

  33. Hotpockets said,

    October 16, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    I think we are all doing good down here and KiNETiX is active more than ever now everytime I visit weekly, so I am very glad about that. 🙂 Currently I am just curious if anyone has heard any news about Darren since I am hesitant to bring up the subject at KiNETiX.

    On a side note… my site ( no longer exists but I was able to backup the memorial page for Tracy, a friend of mine was able to lend me a free domain and some web space for it and I thank him totally for that (even though the domain isn’t really appropriate :P>__

  34. October 17, 2006 at 12:59 am

    Feel free to leave me the url. I am glad you are all doing better. Time doesn’t erase, but it does make things bearable.

  35. Caelin said,

    October 19, 2006 at 1:09 am

    … im glad to here yall are doin good at KX….. not so good here

  36. October 19, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Hang in there Caelin, the first year is always the hardest cause you have so many firsts without her. And I know upcoming holidays are hard. But it does ease some after after the first year, at least you get used to it.

    It is ok even now when you miss her, to let yourself cry. It is ok to talk about her when you feel like it. It is ok to say I miss her or that it hurts. But do you remember how she would say she loved you? She would want you to also learn to laugh again. And to go on without her. Cause as long as you love her and remember her, then a piece of her lives on. And I feel pretty certain that she loved seeing you laugh and have a good time. She always loved you, and that is something that no one can take away from you. She may not be here physically, but her love stays with you.

    I know there are times when it seems like you can’t take it. But just remember what she wanted for you- for you to be happy and healthy. Make that your goal.

  37. Jacob said,

    January 29, 2007 at 7:14 am

    it has been over 6 months since it happened.

    i still cant forget about it.

  38. January 29, 2007 at 7:33 am

    Jacob, something like this you never forget. And it is okay to think about it some. It was horrible and it made a major change in your life too. And I know that to you 6 months seems like a long time. But it has been a busy 6 months with a lot of things undecided for a time. Now it is waiting on the trial. Those things keep it more alive for you.
    But as time goes by, you will find you think of it less and less. You won’t forget, you will remember Tracy and the way things were. But gradually you will begin to remember more about the good parts and less of the terrible parts. But you will need to give it more time.
    Several years ago I lost a friend in an auto accident. And to this day when I drive by that spot, I say “hi John” and spend a bit of time thinking about him. But now I am remembering less of that day and more of what he was like and my memories of him.
    When it is really bothering you, reach out to your parents. Tell them how much you love them. Tell them what you are thinking. They cannot make it go away, but they can share it with you. You can choose the effect this has on you, to make you more appreciative and closer to your parents.

  39. Tom V. said,

    June 22, 2007 at 9:51 am

    I can confirm what Herge said about Darren at school – he seemed very straight laced, was hard working although only a mid-level student. Although he was a christian, he was also pretty highly strung and quick to anger; he was something of a snitch and definitely a nerd: he belonged to the school gaming club and was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons role playing and Warhammer fantasy wargaming throughout his teens (and REALLY didn’t like it when his elven army got defeated). Maybe that desensitised him to violence?

  40. caelin said,

    January 9, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Hey sitting here in iss on my phone reading all this makes me so angry when I saw his picture I wanted to throw my phone. Anyone hear anything lately?

  41. mike aka stoney said,

    January 12, 2008 at 7:17 am

    why the ### (edited per HSH) are you in iss caelin? and yes i believe his court date is spring time if not before then.

  42. Dallas Craig said,

    January 24, 2008 at 6:34 am

    I cant express how I feel for you Caelin. I know this has to be so hard for you. I am sorry we had some rough times when we stayed together but I hope you know I love you and your mother more than I ever knew. If there is anything I can ever do to help you I will always be here for you. They still have Darren in isolation at the county jail. I don’t think he is going to have one good day in prison for as long as he lives. It cant change anything but it will make me feel better. I don’t understand how you ended up in social services. Is there anything I can do? I am so sorry I couldn’t be everything Tracy needed but the last time I saw her she seemed so happy I just thought I should let her go.
    I wasn’t able to handle seeing you the last time you were here hopefully someday I will get to see you again. I would love to see Rajah and give him a big hug for you but I am not sure where he is.
    You are a great kid and I know you will pull through this but I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you. I am going to have to stop now because I can’t stop crying.
    Please know I love you and think about you everyday.
    Love you,

  43. Chase said,

    December 12, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Her son Caelin bennawit. Is my beat friend, and I’m here to help him threw everything. He is really an amazing person.

  44. Linda Case said,

    January 8, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Hey Dallas!
    Hope you remember me. I worked with Tracy at the RE company and I used to pet sit the hairless mice (whom I loved) for you and Tracy. I have thought about you and Caelin so much these last few years. Have also wondered about Rajah – sweet dog. I have a feeling her landlord took him in but I doubt if he took Willow and whatshername. I remember the day we found him. I hope you are well and I hope Caelin is doing well. I’ve wanted to get in touch with him but didn’t know how or if a messge would be welcome. I think of Tracy all the time and am wearing a pair of her many pajama bottoms as I write this. They are falling apart but I still wear them and think of her always. Such a sweet girl. I followed Bridgeman’s path through the justice system and must say he got what he deserved. Bastard! I met him once and he creeped me out. Very strange homosapien. Would love to hear from you and want to know if Caelin is okay. All my best, Linda

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