Missing and murdered: 5 Miami County crimes that grabbed headlines over the years

Murder by banjo, Buckskin Girl among the crime cases

A recent story about the identification of a woman’s body found in Miami County almost four decades ago made news last week.

Here are 5 cases of bizarre crimes and cold cases with Miami County ties that have drawn attention over the years.

Buckskin girl

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

After 37 years Jane Doe, who was found along Greenlee Road west of Troy, has been identified as Marcia L. King of Arkansas.

The body of the young woman, described as having reddish-brown hair in braids and wearing a buckskin jacket, was found in a ditch in 1991. She had been dead less than two days and died of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.

The young woman, who became known the Buckskin Girl, was buried in Troy.

Explore»»Jane Doe no more: Miami County sheriff IDs cold case victim 37 years later

New DNA technology led to her recent identification.

“Law enforcement never forgets,” said Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak as he announced the woman’s identity.

“It’s an old case…but we are determined to bring the person to justice who did it,” said Chief Deputy Steve Lord.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s tip line at 937-440-3990.

Banjos as murder weapons

In 1991, 63-year-old Edward Benson was charged with aggravated murder for bludgeoning his wife to death with a pair of banjos.

Katie Benson died of head injuries after she was beaten with the musical instruments in the couple's West Milton home. The first banjo broke as Benson struck his wife so he got a second banjo and continued the assault.

“I’ve been an officer for 30 years, and that’s the first banjo killing I’ve seen,” said Miami County Chief Deputy Charles Price at the time. “It’s just kind of bizarre.”

Benson was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. The judge dismissed an aggravated murder indictment against him and ordered him returned to a mental health center.

Explore»»Bond set for husband accused of killing wife in Miami County

 Peggy Casey

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Dismembered body parts of a woman were found scattered across Miami, Clark and Champaign counties in 1994.

Peggy Casey, 37, of Covington, Ky., was raped, murdered and then dismembered by a group of men in Boone County, Ky. The body parts were stuffed into garbage bags and discarded in Ohio in an attempt to throw off investigators.

A fisherman found the lower part of Casey’s torso, the upper legs still attached, by a stream in Miami County near Troy. Her lower legs and arms were found in Clark County and her head was discovered in Champaign County. Her upper torso was never found.

Seven years after the crime, investigators received new information and arrests were made in the case.

Multiple suspicions

The skeletal remains of Shannon Shoop, 25, were found in a shallow grave behind a Miami County home in 1997. Two years earlier her head had been discovered in Taylorsville MetroPark.

Joseph Benasutti, the man who owned the Miami County home, led authorities to the unmarked grave while on trial for the slaying.

Benasutti was already serving a 20-to-50-year sentence for an assault of a Springfield woman he had solicited for sex. He was accused of trying to strangle the woman with a ligature at Buck Creek State Park.

Shoop, 25, was believed to be working as a prostitute in Dayton when she disappeared in March 1995. Five other women in Montgomery County survived attacks by Benasutti. A prostitute, LaVonna Thomas, recalled in 1997 that she had a brush with death with Benasutti as well.

“Joseph Benasutti tried to kill me. He blindfolded me, and I felt a noose going around my neck,” said Thomas. “He tried to take my life, and that’s all there is to it.”

Benasutti's home had also been searched for evidence in cases involving Peggy Casey, the Kentucky woman whose body parts were found in several northern counties in 1994; and Yolanda Debarge, a Dayton woman whose skeletal remains were found along a Miami County road in 1993.

 Nikki Lyn Forrest

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Nikki Lyn Forrest, 19, of Piqua, was four months pregnant when she disappeared in September 2010.

At the time of her disappearance, Forrest had no set residence, and had been living with a succession of relatives and friends. But she kept in contact with people through daily text messages, according to Tammy Weddington, her stepmother.

“We didn’t get a text back from her and everything just stopped, “said Weddington, in a 2015 interview. “We never heard from her again.”

Last year investigators dug in the rear of a property on Croydon Road in Troy searching for evidence related to the case. Weddington said there had been four searches over the years Nikki has been missing.

Investigation into the cold case continues.

Explore»»Investigators unearth evidence in 2010 case of missing woman

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