Deshara Benson says she thinks she knows when everything started to go wrong for her and her three siblings. It was 24 years ago this week, when their mother was murdered in a still-unsolved double homicide in Vallejo.
Now 47 and still living in Vallejo, Benson said she’s been trying to get some movement on the case but was unable to get a return call from the Vallejo Police Department since 2011. She plans a march to police headquarters and a vigil there on Sunday, the anniversary of the shootings. The plan is to march up Louisiana Street to Amador Street at 1 p.m. Benson said she expects about 100 people.
“It’s been a cold case and I’m trying to get it reopened or get some help finding resources,” she said. “Me and my siblings haven’t been able to get past it.”
Vallejo Police Capt. John Whitney said police have spoken with the family recently — in June, March and April — though he admits the case hasn’t been reviewed since 2011.
Benson said she was 23 and attending Napa Valley College in 1995. One sister was working on a rap career, her bother was a Los Angeles Dodgers’ prospect and her other sister was a stay-at-home mom. It was then when their mother was murdered, and all that came apart within a couple of years.
“I’ve suffered homelessness, but now, I’m in a good place, and I want justice for my mom and the other lady that was killed and her family,” she said.
Deshara Benson’s older sister, Cherie Benjamin of Vacaville, said she was reluctant to open the old wounds, but she’s standing by her siblings.
“I went through a lot. I had a nervous breakdown. I took it really hard. I just flipped,” she said, adding that she spent three years hounding the police for answers, doing her own amateur sleuthing and trying to care for her family until she couldn’t do it any more.
“I went through a sliding glass door. The police came. My kids were young. It was hard to cope. It affected me to the point that I was totally depressed,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin says she blames the stress of this tragedy for medical issues with which she’s been diagnosed in the intervening years, including epilepsy and breast cancer.
“I was the oldest and the closest to her, and I think it hit me the hardest,” Benjamin said. “I was a nervous wreck. On the 13th it’s 24 years, but I’ll never forget it. January is the worst. It always will be. It was bad. But I thank God, that I got through it. But there are always reminders.”
The San Francisco Chronicle noted the murder that year, reporting that homicides in Vallejo had tripled to 30 in 1994, and that the shooting that killed Benson and Rhonda Thompson – the first of 1995 — had investigators baffled.
“After receiving 911 calls from neighbors who heard gunshots, police found two women bleeding in a bedroom of a house in the 400 block of Ohio Street about 11 p.m. Friday,” the story says. “Rhonda Michelle Thompson, 27, who lived in the house, died at the scene,… Her friend, Donna Pearl Benson, 39, was taken to Kaiser Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.”
Thompson’s 1-year-old son was found unharmed at the house, and her 5-year-old son had spent the night at a relative’s home, and wasn’t there, it said.
Benson said she feels like her mother’s unsolved murder has left a cloud over her family.
“I feel cursed,” she said. “Like this is a barrier to my getting anywhere. I was born and raised in the church, and I know my mom is not resting in peace. My sister and her two kids were homeless, living in a car.”
Her father died in 2007, she said.
“It’s just us,” she said.
“I want my mom’s case solved,” Benson said. “My mom was an ordinary mom; a nursing assistant, and she deserves justice. I want justice for my mom and closure for my sisters and brother.”
Benson said she picked the mantle for this cause back up when it occurred to her that it was a big piece of unfinished business.
“I was passing the cemetery on my way to get milk, and I was thinking, ‘what am I forgetting to do?,’ and it occurred to me that there was something I started and I meant to finish,” she said. “I’m trying to get answers. Who is the person who took the lives of two people in front of a 2-year-old? I don’t want to give up on it.”
Benjamin was less enthusiastic about opening old wounds, but is going along.
“I didn’t want to relive this, and I think the killer is not here anymore, and that’s why it’s a cold case,” she said. “I feel my mom is at peace. But, I hope maybe the police will look at the case again. After 24 years I’d like some sort of closure.”
She said she thinks there is information known to the police that was never followed up on.
Whitney said that as much as they’d like to solve the case, without new leads, not much more can be done, despite “piles of evidence.”
“The case remains open until it’s solved,” Whitney said. “Every year, we regularly review all our open homicide cases, looking for new ideas or new perspectives.”
There are likely hundreds of such cases on the books, stretching back as far as the Zodiac case and maybe earlier, he said.
The Benson case is not actively being investigated at this time, Whitney said, but detectives will jump on it if any new information comes up.
“Our hearts go out to the family,” he said. “We invite the family to come in and review the case with a detective.”
Source : https://www.timesheraldonline.com/2019/01/08/family-of-1995-murder-victim-calls-on-vallejo-police-to-re-look-at-the-case/Thank you for visit my website