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CO CO - Bruce, 27, Debra, 26, & Melissa Bennett, 7, Aurora, 16 Jan 1984

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by gaia227, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    January 15th was the Bennett's oldest daughter, Melissa's 7th birthday and the house was full of relatives celebrating. The clock hit midnight and the 15th became the 16th and in the early morning hours an intruder entered the home of the Bennett family armed with a knife and a hammer. Bruce Bennett, the father, fought valiantly to protect his wife and two little girls and evidence from the crime scene tells the story of his struggle. He fought with the attacker in more than one location sustaining numerous blows to the head, slashes and stabs yet he kept fighting. He lost the battle on the stairs of his own home. The intruder continued to the bedroom Bruce shared with his wife Debbie and he raped her before he beat her to death with a hammer. He then presumably continued down the hall where he raped the Bennetts 7 yr old daughter, Melissa and killed her in the same fashion. He smashed in the face of the youngest daughter 3 yrs old, Vanessa and she somehow survived.
    The family was discovered by Bruce's mother when she became worried after no one showed up to open their family business. Debbie was found in her bed and the two girls in their bedrooms. Vanessa has gone through numerous surgeries to correct the damage to her face and she was raised by her grandmother.

    There was no forced entry and nothing was stolen from the house. Debbie's purse was found outside in the yard.

    LE was able to extract the killer's DNA in 2004 and it has excluded all the Bennett family members. The interesting thing to note here is that in the days leading up the BRuce family murders there were several hammer attacks in the area. January 4th a man entered a home and beat a couple with a hammer but they both survived. January 10th someone beat a woman to death in her home with a hammer and on that same day
    another woman was beat with a hammer in her home but she survived.
    This article doesn't say if the survivors actually saw their attacker.

    This article has comments by friends of the Bennett family

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/coldcas...y-killed-by-intruder-with-taste-for-violence/

    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/2767671/detail.html

    There is not a whole lot of info on the web about this - there might be and I just can't find it - if anyone has anything I would love to read it.

    It sounds like LE is still investigating this case.
     
    margarita25 and Laughing like this.
  2. TallCoolOne

    TallCoolOne Registered Lurker

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    Wow, how awful of a story is this?

    I don't have anything to add, but I will be watching for anyone who might.
     
  3. Hope4Lost

    Hope4Lost New Member

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    Whoever did this is a monster. I wonder if they are in jail, dead, or switched MO.
     
  4. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    Bumping!

    There is not much to add. I was just thinking about this family today.
     
  5. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    This sounds like a frenzied attack and to be honest, it sounds like a rage killing. I have a nagging thought that this killer knew this family and it sounded like they knew the layout of the house. A couple details stand out to me. It says that Bruce met the killer on the stairs. Did Bruce go down with any sort of weapon? There is no mention of the cops finding anything close by like a base ball bat that Bruce would have used to defend himself. Also, how did Bruce happen to head downstairs? We will never know. I think his mother said Bruce and his family never did anything to anyone or whatever, but to me, this sounds personal. What if the killer still lives in that neighborhood. I wonder if he knows that little girl survived that attack. Did she grow up in the same area that her family is murdered in? I don't know, there is something about this case-I wouldn't say it haunts me, but it doesn't seem right. I am no expert, but how common were home invasions in 1984? Did Debbie's parents ever say anything? Were the other women in the other cases that are seemingly related raped? Why wasn't the youngest daughter raped ( I am not advocating it, just wondering why the killer didn't since he raped Debbie and her other child).
     
  6. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    I always suspected he did not rape the 3 yr old because of either her age, he felt like he needed to get outta there and/or after raping 2 others before her he was 'spent' and did not have the desire.

    I am conflicted on if this was random or not. The fact that there were other hammer attacks in the area leading up to this mass murder could lead one to think it was random and after a few 'trial' runs, attacks in which he was not successful in killing his victims, could have left him frustrated anough to randomly target this family or he had worked his way up to feeling confident enough to go after an entire family and kill them.

    Then on the other hand, there was no forced entry, there had been a party at the house that day so the family had several guests who would have become familiar w/ the house. I wonder if any of the guests present that day were not usuals - like a new boyfriend of a family member or something along those lines. I would assume the father awoke because heard something and went to investigate or he could have still been awake when the perp made entry but you are right scriptgirl - we will never know for sure what transpired. The Bennett's ran a family business so there is also the possibility of a disgruntled ex employee type situation.

    It is encouraging that LE has DNA but unfortunatly I don't think this case will be solved. I am curious as to how often the DNA from the scene is ran through CODIS.
     
  7. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    What is Codis? But it seems to me that at a child's bday party, you aren't going to have a high degree of randoms or unknown adults. I forgot about there being no signs of forced entry-but is it possible that a basement door or window was unlocked? Do we know where this guy entered? Was Aurora a relatively safe place? Did people feel safe enough in the 80s to keep doors unlocked? Also, you have to wonder if Bruce and Debbie knew about or heard about the other hammer killings. Re this maniac working up enough confidence to kill a family after his other attacks-I would think not. I mean those other people lived, so if he had any kind of sense, he would realize that he was not that good at what he was doing. Could be that the real killer was "inspired" by those other attacks and knew if he killed in this way, the police would link all these incidents together. In the other cases, were there signs of forced entry?
     
  8. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    Sorry i missed your post scriptgirl. CODIS is a computer program which operates state and national databases of DNA profiles from convicts, crime scenes, etc. For instance if someone is convicted of a murder, their DNA is taken and put into CODIS. If a detective half way across the country has unindentified DNA he can have the DNA run through the database to see if he gets any hits. With cold cases the detectives will have the DNA run through CODIS periodically to see if their killer has since been arrested for another crime and their DNA put into the database. It is similar to the the fingerprint database.
     
  9. believe09

    believe09 Active Member

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    Any physical description at all in the crime? Shoe print, a guess, ethnicity anything???
     
  10. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    I have never read anything which gives us a clue. LE has the killer's DNA so I am sure they know the sex (obviously, most likely male) and they may even know his race and approx age.

    LE has looked into the possibility these murders were tied to the recent hammer attacks in which all victims lived but I have never seen or heard anything about a composite or description of the perp.
     
  11. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    Thanks Gaia.
     
  12. West

    West New Member

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    "There was no forced entry and nothing was stolen from the house. Debbie's purse was found outside in the yard."

    Did family member run a late night errand after guests left (ex: need milk for tomorrow breakfast)? Perhaps Debbie as her purse was found in yard. Intruder waiting in shadows forced in behind her, husband came to door after hearing Debbie scream, starts fighting with guy, Mom runs upstairs to her room where phone is to call 911, intruder overpowers Dad and the rest of the story unfolds?

    Was attacker a family friend? Came by after all guests had left house to drop off a gift, say hi and wound up holding family hostage/committing crime in early morning hours?

    Did house have a garage? Perhaps someone snuck into open door and waited for opportune time. Family closes door before bed, locking intruder in the garage and he enters home later in the night after family has slept.

    Doesn't seem like robbery was motive.
     
  13. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    LE seems to think Debbie and the children were in bed. I find it odd Debbie would sleep through her husband being violently attacked but stranger things have happened. In any event Debbie was found in the master bedroom and the girls were in their beds when they were attacked. As for Debbie's purse the perp could have grabbed it in an attempt to make it look like a robbery and then dropped it for whatever reason when he was escaping. I don't know. There does not really seem to be a real good explanation as to why here purse and its belonging were strewn across the lawn.

    LE also seems to take the idea that these murders were random pretty seriously. It is pretty interesting there were several hammer attacks in the days leading up to this one and LE believes the murder weapon to have been a hammer in the Bennett case.

    I have been to Aurora, CO before and at least when I was there it was a very nice community. I could see back in 1984 the possibility the Bennett's did not lock their doors. It is hard for me to imagine doing that asI am paranoid (hmmm, wonder why?) but I hear about people in smaller towns all the time who don't lock up. The no forced entry is intriguing. If it was random and the the doors were locked then how did he get in?
     
  14. West

    West New Member

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    Was Aurora an incorporated part of Denver Metro area at that time? I know Denver was beginning to boom, but unlocked doors would seem like a good possibility if this was in a fringe neighborhood where a lot of developments were being built.

    On that same note...perhaps it was an itinerant construction worker. Obviously would have access to murder weapon, building the homes there he would be familiar with layout of houses, could have moved out of area quickly as a construction worker, perhaps even immigrant working under the radar?

    I agree with the fact that if husband was being attacked with a hammer, wife would sleep through that. My first thought would be getting my children, running down the hall to them, calling 911...In order to have fought viciously with the husband on the steps, which it says husband struggled with attacker, would have at least given Mom a chance to do SOMETHING...call 911, move position in the house. I certainly wouldn't be sitting in bed still if I could hear my husband being beaten to death by someone who wasn't supposed to be in the house.
     
  15. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    Once again, I miss a salient point-had no idea about purse contents being strewn on lawn. I don't think Debbie slept through the attack on her hubby-maybe she was hiding in the bedroom or waiting on the stairs and the killer dragged her into the bedroom
     
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  16. tapu

    tapu Pretty scary.

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    This seems totally random to me, too. If it were anyone with ties to the family, to the crime, to anything in their lives, that person would have been identified in the investigation. I guess my reasoning is that for such a huge, horrific crime, involving the whole family, plus rape of the wife, of a child, and attempting to kill a 3yo, then any real motive would be so big as to be detected by now. Since they cleared the family, and no other suspects exist, I can't imagine it could be anything but a completely random attack.
     
  17. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    I would seriously look at people this family knew. I think this may have been a crime of oppotunity. The family probably knew this guy as a semi-friend, not someone they knew really well, but maybe someone who came into the store often. He probably had done the others with the hammer, and was inside the store purchasing things when he made some small talk with the dad and found out about the birthday party and how lots of family would be there that night. If he knew the doors would be opened and closed a lot he may have just slipped in, thus the reason for no forced entry. He may have even asked if he could come and give the girl a gift or something, or claimed he had a girl the same age who "needed to make some friends", and may have scored himself an invite. He may have shown up and said that his child was suddenly ill and he wanted to bring the present for the girl. I think we are looking for someone who did know of this birthday party as an easy way to slip into the house, hide, and wait for everyone to leave. Someone who seemed trustworthy but really was not.
     
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  18. scriptgirl

    scriptgirl Active Member

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    I don't think this was random. My gut tells me it was personal. the killer knew this family
     
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  19. West

    West New Member

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    I find it interesting that the attack was so violent, specifically for a random killer.

    He left no stone unturned in that house, bludgeoning the husband, raping and beating the Mom and elder daughter and smashing the face of a 3 year old. It doesn't seem as though there was a target for the crime, as the atrocities were inflicted equally across the family with no regard to age etc.

    I suspect that this was someone the family had known, perhaps someone that Dad worked with in the Navy? Maybe someone he knew in passing? Perhaps it was someone who Debra had run into (the butcher at the deli at the grocery when she was shopping with daughters etc.). She denied advances or did something (anything from ingnoring his wave to denying his request for a date) that offended him and he began stalking family, planning to take revenge.

    I feel like this case should be reinvestigated. The combination of the mutiple hammer attacks in the days before the Bennett murders suggest that if this is the same person, he was becoming more and more aggressive in his attacks, perhaps capping off his crimes with a big finale before leaving the area.

    I wonder if LE has investigated other hammer attacks or multiple murders in nearby states occuring in the months following or preceeding this. Whoever murders a family like this clearly has the capacity to commit again or had been 'practicing' his attacks.
     
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  20. Daisy1975

    Daisy1975 New Member

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    I lived in Aurora when this crime ocured and still do. I was 9 years old and I remember everyone was trying to shield us children from the news, but everyone was so scared and talking about it that it was hard to. A teacher at school is where I heard about it and I remember being very frightened. Everyone called this guy "The Hammer Killer."

    I can attest that Aurora was a safe, family oriented community at the time, but I know that we would still not leave any doors unlocked at night. I think the consensus was that Bruce went out for a gallon of milk and was so tired when he got home that he did not lock the interior garage door that enters into the house. That is where police believed the killer entered. I am also not sure if the automatic garage door was left open all night. That might have been why the perp chose this house, I have no idea.

    At that time, the Bennett's house did not have a fenced in back yard, and the back of their house faced Alameda Avenue which was pretty desolate. Now there are many more housing developments and a large post office there, but in 1984 I seem to remember it being pretty quiet. Since the other hammer attacks that proceeded this attack also ocured on Alameda, it seems like this guy was just working his way up the street or something. Very scary. I have never decided whether he knew them or not. The police here all seem to think it was random.

    I remember that there was such a fury in Aurora that everyone went out and got double dead bolt locks on all their doors, and people were carrying guns. I also remember that Vanessa's injuries got a lot of news coverage. There were a lot of community fundraisers to help with her medical costs so I am sure if the perp watched the news, he knew that Vanessa survived his vicious attack.

    I think about this crime almost every day as I drive past the Bennett house on my way to work. I sure wish they could find a match with the DNA and expose this monster.
     
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