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.