Talking with people who are devastated over the loss of a loved one is difficult enough, but it’s worse sometimes when they don’t know what happened to them.
I’ve spent the last two weeks gathering information on a cold case from Pottawatomie County about a 22-year-old Tecumseh man reported missing in 2001. Skeletal remains found in Earlsboro in April 2008 were linked to the missing man, Dustin Bench.
For seven years, his family tried to find him in crowds but never succeeded. Now that his skeletal remains have been found, they want answers about what happened to him.
I recently sat down and spoke with his sister, Jamie Bench, 20, about the case. She said her big brother was her best friend, and she often wonders what he would be doing now if he had survived.
She said her family spent many years looking for Dustin after he disappeared. Sometimes they would drive through town and try to find his face in the crowd.
As time progressed, the possibilities of what happened to her brother became hard to deal with. She said members of her family would pass time by thinking that he would show up on their doorstep someday with a wife and a baby.
But those stories came to a halt in April 2008 when skeletal remains were found by a mushroom hunter in a field in Earlsboro, about 50 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The family had a feeling the remains belonged to their Dustin.
The state medical examiner’s office reported that 49 human bones were recovered, and a DNA sample from James Bench linked the bones to his son.
Capt. J.T. Palmer with the Pottawatomie County sheriff’s office said the case is being investigated as a homicide because of suspicious circumstances surrounding Dustin Bench’s death. He said he thinks investigators are close to solving the case and asks that anyone with information about the case call 405-275-2526.