Benjamin Bearrick

I was writing up cases to post tomorrow when I came across a rather odd one: the January 2009 disappearance of Benjamin Bearrick from Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was 55 years old, unemployed, and living alone. He rented out a small cabin to Shawn Sponholz. Bearrick was a longtime resident of Vickburg; Sponholz had only been living there a couple of months.

On the evening of January 23, Bearrick drove Sponholz to the hospital. Sponholz had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and he died in ER. Bearrick, when questioned, said he’d gone to the cabin and found Sponholz there, injured. It doesn’t look like he provided any more information, but the police are being pretty tight-lipped about it so I don’t know for sure. Anyway, the police questioned Bearrick as a material witness and released him. On January 26, they went to his house to question him again and he was gone. The last time anyone saw him was on January 25.

The cops stated they believed Bearrick’s disappearance was connected to Sponholz’s murder and they think Bearrick, too, was probably killed. They haven’t said why they think this. They claim they have a suspect in the homicide but haven’t named this person, and it’s been a year and no charges have been filed. Presumably, Bearrick saw something he shouldn’t have.

I looked up both men’s backgrounds and both of them have criminal records, but not serious ones. Bearrick has one ancient burglary conviction in Texas. Sponholz has a record in Georgia for marijuana possession and traffic-related offenses. I’m sure there are several decent enough citizens in my neighborhood who can say the same thing about themselves. Nobody seems to know much about Bearrick. He has a daughter and a son, and his daughter was interviewed by a newspaper and said her father was a Vietnam vet and had relatives in Texas whom he hadn’t heard from in twenty years. Even she didn’t seem to know an awful lot about her father.

So what the hell happened? From the sounds of it, either Bearrick committed the murder himself and then split (unlikely, since the cops don’t seem to think so, and they know a great deal more about the case than I), or there’s a double murderer floating around Vicksburg somewhere. A scary thought, either way.

7 thoughts on “Benjamin Bearrick

  1. danielle February 1, 2010 / 2:12 am

    I JUST saw a 48 Hours Mystery about Theresa Parker and her husband. Maybe you can see the transcipt online.
    The husband, a police officer, was found guilty of her murder.
    What do they do with police officers in prison for life? Protective custody the whole time?

    • Meaghan February 1, 2010 / 2:42 am

      Yeah, I saw the online thing.

      I have no idea what they do with cops in prison.

    • Justin February 1, 2010 / 4:18 am

      I think they put former cops in administrative segragation, protective custody, or whatever name the individual prisons give the areas where they put prisoners who would get attacked and/or killed in general population.

      Cops who go to prison share their space with child molesters, exposed informers and prosoners whose crimes are so notorious that other prisoners will try to kill them to get a reputation. And yes, I do think they have to spend their whole time in protective custody because inmates have long memories. Can you imagine a former cop serving time with people he may have arrested? Won’t work. And don’t even get me started on former prison guards who are convicted of crimes.

      • danielle February 1, 2010 / 2:53 pm

        I had a feeling it was something like that. I wonder if they ever transfer the prisoner/cop to an out of state prison.
        Life is a long time to be segrated.
        I guess other prisoners have long memories b/c they have nothing else in prison to do.
        I’ve never seen or been in a prison but I’d like to, just out of curiosity. But then, I’d probably regret doing it.

        On another subject: Bearrick: I hope he isn’t dead. SOunds like he did a nice thing by taking the guy to the hospital. Kind of scary when you think about him missing

      • Justin February 2, 2010 / 1:59 am

        Probably. I’ve heard of prisons making deals to take or swap out of state prisoners. Usually because prisoners made deals to get incarcerated someplace closer to their families. Or to go someplace where no one knows them.

        Of course, prison gangs have a pretty good intelligence network themselves and are paranoid that someone may be a plant whose job is to inform on them. If nobody knows who a new prisoner is or they cannot find someone that is trusted to vouch for them, then I’m pretty sure they have people on the outside do a very thorough background check on them. With all the information floating around in cyberspace, it is really hard to be completely anonymous.

  2. maureen February 1, 2010 / 9:45 am

    On the Sponholz-Bearrick events—I’m curious about Sponholz. The offenses listed don’t amount to much. Was he a dealer who gave up other people? If he were in witness protection, would LE let that be known? If Bearrick was a good Samaritan, perhaps he saw or heard something: or someone feared that a dying Sponholz revealed the name of his killer.

    Maybe I read too much James Lee Burke (or Chandler, or Block, or LeCarre).

    • Meaghan February 2, 2010 / 4:51 pm

      I wonder if his murder wasn’t just a crime of passion type, a stabbing during an argument. It seems like if someone planned to kill him with a knife before it happened, they would either slit his throat or stab him in the chest or the back, not stab him in the neck.

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