The Bentler Family Murders

BONAPARTE, Iowa (AP) — Even a year later, residents of this tiny, scenic town struggle with the details of the heinous crime that brought national headlines.

The five-member Bentler family, by all accounts a fixture in this community of 400 or so, apparently all killed by their own son and brother, Shawn Bentler.

“It’s still hard to believe something like this could happen here,” said Peggy Troutman, owner of Bonaparte Mercantile. “I try not to think about it, but it’s difficult, even after all this time.”

Like many here, Troutman had connections with the Bentlers. Her son went to school with Shawn Bentler. Now, she said, her son rarely speaks of his former friend.

In May, Bentler, of Quincy, Ill., of five counts of first-degree murder for shooting deaths of his parents, Michael and Sandra Bentler, and his teenage sisters, Sheena, Shelby and ShaynDe.

Authorities said he wanted the family’s inheritance from a lucrative grain business that Michael Bentler owned. Bentler has been ordered to serve five life sentences in prison, including four concurrently and one consecutively, although he has appealed his conviction.

Resident say the Bentler family’s presence can still be felt here. During a recent hayrack ride, for example, some said memories of the family came flooding back as the route traveled past the gravel driveway that used to lead to the Bentler’s home.

“It’s been tough,” Troutman said. “It still hurts to think about it.”

The impact was especially acute at Harmony High School, near Bonaparte, where each of the sisters attended school.

“We still have students going to counseling,” said Tim Peterson, the school’s superintendent. “We are a small school, and everybody knew the girls. Our kids are just trying to be kids. It has been difficult at times, but we have all pulled together.”

In recent months, friends and classmates have created online tributes to the girls, including groups on Web sites such as Facebook and Myspace. On YouTube, a four-minute movie features photographs of the sisters set to music. The photos show the girls hanging out with friends, hunting and riding horses.

On Sunday, the anniversary of the deaths, residents were planning to hold a formal memorial service and visit the Bonaparte Cemetery, where flowers and wreaths have been placed in tribute.

Members of the Bentler and Mendez families will gather to pay tribute to their loved ones at St. Bonafice Catholic Church in Farmington, where the Bentlers worshipped.

Even those who did not know the Bentler’s seem to have been affected.

Near the cemetery gates last week, Janice Morgan of Freeport, Ill., paused and looked up the hill toward the family’s resting place. Morgan was in Bonaparte when news of the murders broke. She said she returned to town to pay her respects.

“I don’t even know them, but my heart goes out to them,” Morgan said. “I love visiting this area, but this year I knew I had to come to pay my respects to that family. I have kept up with the case online. You don’t have to know them personally to know this is a terrible loss to the community.”


2010’s PARTIAL list of missing persons

Missing Since: February 1, 2010 from Port Orange, FloridThis is a very small list of missing persons for the year 2010, that I have obtained from various sources on the web. This list does NOT include missing individuals who are considered ‘endangered runaways’, (meaning those that have vanished deliberately), nor does it include family abductions. Please note: I am NOT saying that missing people who are runaways, or those abducted by family members, are NOT important. I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that I feel that those individuals who may not have WANTED to vanish intentionally may need to have a higher priority put on their cases above those who vanished intentionally. The stakes may be greater, the risk higher for harm to come to them, or to have already come to them. Family abductions, while also a terribly serious and frightening scenario, don’t fall into the category of stranger abductions either. ANY and ALL missing person’s cases are of utmost importance, regardless of the circumstances. I have simply chosen, for this blog post, to highlight those who appear to have had NO intentions whatsoever of disappearing, and the events that caused them to  do such, appear to have been completely beyond their control.

Sylvia Cuttitta:

Missing Since: January 3, 2010 from Staten Island, New York. 50 years old, poor mental health. Left home without any identification, money, credit cards or wallet.bLong hair, partially amputated
middle finger on left hand.

Paul Michael Foster:

Missing Since: January 10, 2010 from Hamilton, Ontario. Blue Eyes, Blond Hair, 28 years old, Blond spiky hair, has tatoo of a dragon on his shoulder, and FOSTER on his back. Ring tattoo on his ring finger. Paul was last seen by his family on Sunday, January 10, 2010 at approximately 6:00 p.m. His family is concerned about his well-being as he has not contacted them since they last spoke. Paul left his dog at home unattended, has not accessed his bank accounts and has made no contact with his friends. All of this behaviour is out of the ordinary for him. Paul’s vehicle is also missing and it is unknown whether he left his home in his car.  His vehicle is described as: 1999 Chevrolet S10 pick-up, black in colour,licence plate 343

Joseph Edward Schwer:

  • Missing Since: January 15, 2010 from Taylors Island, Maryland. 57 years old, weight between 180 and 220. Graying to Bald hair, white male, brown eyes.

    Emilio Diaz Rosario: .

    Missing Since: January 21, 2010 from Lake Como, New Jersey. Brown hair, brown eyes, hispanic 46 year old male. Emilio was last seen on January 21, 2010 by his roommates in Lake Como, NJ. He does work in Ocean Township, NJ and he has not shown up for work. His bicycle was found in the woods at his place of employment

    Patrick Kennedy Alford:

    1Missing since 1-22-2010, Brooklyn New York. 7 year old biracial male,  foster child.

    Anita Michelle Dobbs :

    1Missing since January 24, 2010 from Birmingham, Alabama. 46 year old black female, last seen in Birmingham, Alabama on January 24, 2010 by her live-in boyfriend, Charlie Pope.
    Ms. Dobbs usually frequents the Smithfield Area of Birmingham.

    Cheryl Kanning

    1Missing Since: January 24, 2010 from Bentonville, Arkansas

    Kanning was last seen January 24, 2010 leaving her house on Crosswinds Boulevard. She left
    behind her purse, credit cards, money and even her shoes. She was driving a 2005 Black Jeep
    Grand Cherokee with a license plate number 504 NLP. Authorities in Heber Springs, AR received
    a tip from a woman who said that she saw a shoeless woman dressed in black during her morning commute.
    According to Bentonville Police, Kanning left the home following a domestic dispute with her husband.
    The dispute did not warrant police involvement. Cheryl’s daughter, Briana Beazley, has not been in
    much contact with her step-father, but said it appeared like her mom was in a loving marriage.
    Kanning is a mother of three and a grandmother. She worked as a business manager at Este Lauder.
    She wasn’t on any medication. Beazley said before her mom disappeared they spoke on the phone at
    least once a week. Jon Simpson of Bentonville police said, She has family members as far away as
    Wyoming and Montana and as close as Bentonville and Rogers, none of which have heard from her since.

    Joan Renee Cook


  • Missing Since: January 25, 2010 from Salem, Virginia
  • Classification: Missing
  • Date Of Birth: February 2, 1965
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 5’6″
  • Weight: 120 lbs.
  • Hair Color: Brown
  • Eye Color: Brown
  • Race: White
  • Gender: Female
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Curly brown shoulder
    length hair. A frog tattoo on her lower back and a “bracelet”
    tattoo with flowers on her ankle.
  • Clothing: Last seen in a red sweater, blue jeans, black
    jacket and Timberland shoes (not boots but shoes).
  • Joan left 2810 Elderwood Rd in Salem, Virginia on January 24 and had contact with a friend on January 25. That is the last contact she has had with anyone.

    Laurel Lea Rogers


    Missing Since: February 1, 2010 from Port Orange, Florida

  • On February 1, 2010 at 1730- Laurel Rogers was last seen at her residence by her brother. Her brother went out on the back porch to workout and when he returned Laurel Rogers was gone.
    Phone recordes indicate that the last activity was on 02/02/10 at 1845 hours when Laurel’s phone called one of her friends and an unknown male named “Jamal” advised that Laurel left her phone with him and she was with two unknown males named Kenny and Breezy. There has been no bank activity on Laurel’s bank accounts and no further phone activity.
  • Medical Conditions: Lupus/ Fiber Mi-alga/ Seizures
  • Clothing: Black, G Unit brand hooded zip up jacket with small
    multi colored “G”‘s on the front, purple short sleeve shirt with a white
    design over a purple long sleeve shirt, light blue denim jeans, black tennis
    shoes with white trim
  • Jewelry: – 20″ gold rope necklace with two rings. Multiple
    rings on all of her fingers.
  • Gianni Giuseppe Martelli McStay and Joseph Mateo Martelli McStay Jr

    1 1

    Gianni and Joseph Jr. were last seen on February 4, 2010. They may be in the company of Summer McStay and Joseph McStay Sr.
    Summer may use the alias date of birth January 1, 1978.

    Joseph is age 3, 35 pounds, white male with brown hair and brown eyes.

    Gianni is age 4, 40 pounds, white male with brown hair and brown eyes.

    Eugene “Gene” Losik


    Missing Since: February 20, 2010 from Boston, Massachusetts

    Age 25, 185 pounds, white male, blue eyes, blond hair.

    Eugene Losik, 25, had been out celebrating a birthday in Faneuil Hall with friends and returned to the Long Wharf Marriott Hotel where he was staying around midnight. He went on a walk with a friend shortly after and returned to the hotel at 1:00am. He was last seen on security camera footage leaving the Marriott Long Wharf’s back entrance alone at 2:24 a.m. Saturday. He disappeared, wearing just a T-shirt, jeans and dress shoes, and hasn’t been seen since.

    Laura Vogel

    1Missing Since: February 21, 2010 from Ha’iku, Maui.

    43 years old, white female, 5 foot 8, 140 pounds, blond hair, blue eyes.

    Clothing: Dark grey sweatpants and dusky blue t-shirt. Laura went missing from the Pauwela Lighthouse area of Ha’iku, Maui Sunday night, February 21, 2010. Her van and part of her cell phone have been found.

    Jozlynn Mari Martinez

    1Missing Since: February 22, 2010 from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    2 years old, about 22 pounds,  sandy hair, and hazel eyes.

    Jozlynn was last seen on February 22, 2010. She may be in the company of an adult male. Jozlynn has a scab on her chin.

    Francisco Javier Lopez


    Missing Since: February 26, 2010 from Hayward, California

    27 year old hispanic male, 5’9, 130 pounds, last seen entering a residence on the 1900 block of Standish Ave. in Hayward, California.

    Sonia Thomas


    Missing Since: March 3, 2010 from Surrey, British Columbia

    41 year old female, 5’3, 190 pounds, Shoulder length hair with
    bangs; tattoo of a bear-claw symbol on the back of her neck and “Sammy91”
    on the inside of her left calf.

    Kyron Horman: Where are you?

    Kyron Horman has been missing since June 4, 2010. There is simply no reasonable, logical, explainable answer as to how this child could have simply vanished off the face of the earth, other than at the hands of one of those who last saw him that morning. All the evidence, up to this time, seems to point at his step mother, Terri, soon to be ex-Horman. How can it be that someone who appeared to be a good, caring mother, has turned into what she looks like now? Maybe it’s because some of the ugly truth has begun to come out.

    Kyron’s parents and stepparents have appeared together in two news conferences, but little was said in either one. However, some very key statements have been made:

    Desiree admitted that she had suspicions Terri may have been involved in Kyron’s disappearance as soon as she was told he was missing.  Desiree backed this up by stating,  “I’ve known her a long time. I know she’s lying…Terri is not taking an active role in finding Kyron.”  When asked what Terri could do that Desiree would think would be “the right thing”, Desiree responded “being honest…whatever the truth is, we cannot speculate on.  But whatever it is, she needs to get it out there”.

    The following was written BY KAINE as his reason for seeking a restraining order against Terri:

    I believe Respondent is involved in the disappearance of my son Kyron who has been missing since June 4, 2010.  I also recently learned that Respondent attempted to hire someone to murder me.  The police have provided me with probable cause to believe the above two statements to be true. [Emphasis added]

    Kyron’s dad, Kaine Horman, quietly left the family home with Kyron’s  little half sister, Kiara. There were some very suspicious 9-1-1 calls made from the household.  Then suddenly, about 2 days later Kaine filed for divorce, and in a restraining order alleged a murder-for-hire plot that was revealed two weeks ago. He demanded that she leave the house they have lived in that he owns.

    Now, put all this together, along with the claims that Terri Horman has also now had some sort of sexual relationship with Kaine’s friend from high school, reportedly this happened AFTER Kyron went missing, and see where your suspicions lead you. I know where mine led me.

    "Worry About Me First"!!!

    (She’s not crying about Haleigh here,
    not really. I bet she’s crying because
    she knows whatever her deal was,
    it’s UP.)

    Yet even more unbelievable. The tapes from jail released and aired on Nancy Grace of Misty Croslin and her father’s phone conversation. Truly unreal. Asking her father to ‘worry about me first’, not worrying about both her and her brother. What gives with this?

    This was the headlines for Nancy Grace’s show on Monday Feb. 22, 2010:
    Breaking news! Shocking new jailhouse tapes of Haleigh’s angry former babysitter-stepmom Misty Croslin demanding ‘Worry about me first’ and urgently begging for help to walk free! Plus, secret undercover sting video allegedly shows Croslin and her ex-husband, missing Haleigh’s dad Ron Cummings, dealing drugs! All caught on tape!
    I watched the show, at least the last half of it. I was shocked by the tape of Misty telling her father to ‘worry about her first’, to begin with. I almost felt sorry for her father, I believe her reaction shocked him too, when she said that. The poor man, he was only letting her know her brother loves her, and that he wanted both of them out of jail. Typical for any parent who loves their children, no matter what the child or children have done. Just goes to show what a brat Misty apparently is, (and maybe has been a lot of her life).
    And as she and her mom talked about whether she was going to get bailed out, she is beginning to try to play heavy handed very clearly now. The idea that she wouldn’t talk about what happened to Haley (that was never actually specified, but viewers pretty much could guess that’s what she meant when she said ‘talk about it’), until she was bonded out, and had a ‘guarantee’ of her bond not being revoked, makes me ill, as I am sure that it did many others who watched this garbage last night. It clearly almost shows that she does indeed KNOW what happened to that sweet 5 year old little girl, and doesn’t intend to give the family members who actually love her any kind of closure unless it is on HER terms.
    You know where you can go Misty. Just have the decency to let this little girl’s real family know what has happened to her.