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Sister of slain Tecumseh man seeks answers

Pottawatomie County authorities still are working to solve the case of a missing Tecumseh, OK, man whose skeletal remains were found in 2008. His sister, Jamie Bench, speaks about the case and how it has inspired her to study to become a pathologist and help other families.
BY TIFFANY GIBSON Published: November 13, 2011

For seven years Jamie Bench studied faces in the crowd, hoping to find her brother.

Dustin Bench, 22, went missing after he left his Tecumseh home on July 1, 2001, to see his girlfriend.

Two years ago, she learned what had become of him when his DNA was matched to skeletal remains found in Earlsboro, 8 miles east of Tecumseh.

Now she wants justice.

Family memories

Jamie Bench, who was 10 at the time, said she remembers her brother as a best friend who could always make her laugh.

“He stuck up for me,” she said. “He was a typical big brother.”

When Dustin Bench wasn't protecting his sister from bullies on the school bus, he would quiz her about music artists and songs. His favorite music was from rock artists such as

Ozzy Osbourne and Korn. “He gave me my love for music,” she said.

Their father, James Bench, said he didn't realize anything was wrong at first when his son didn't come home that night. When his son missed work, though, he began to worry and filed a missing persons report.

“He was basically a good kid,” he said. “He was pretty quiet. He was a real good person.”

Jamie Bench said she recalls the last time she saw her brother. He wore blue jeans, a dark shirt and hat and New Balance white, orange and black shoes.

“I remember the day he disappeared,” she said. “It wasn't unusual.

“Dustin usually did his own thing.”

Searching for answers

Jamie Bench, now 20, wants to speak out about her brother's case in hope that tips and new leads will help investigators find whoever was responsible for his death.

People have told authorities they believe Dustin Bench was killed and thrown off a bridge, but officials say the story doesn't match up with where his body was found. There's also speculation that his life could have been taken by people to whom he owed money.

She said her family spent many years looking for him 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.

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How to help

Anyone with information about the death or disappearance of Dustin Bench should call the Pottawatomie County sheriff's office at 275-2526.


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