This week’s featured missing person is Richard Willis “Rick” Bendele, a 29-year-old man who was last seen hunting pheasants in Blaine County, Idaho, in the Laidlaw Park area, on November 17, 1996. He called his mom at six o’clock to say his pickup had stalled on a remote road and he thought someone had tampered with it, and this is the last time anyone saw or heard from him.
His mom and girlfriend tried to find him, but weren’t able to and reported him missing in the early morning hours the next day. The next day a search party found the truck, abandoned and apparently vandalized. No sign of Bendele.
I’m not sure what happened to him, but the fact that his coat was found in the truck and searchers later found one (and only one) of his shoes is not a good sign. I think he probably died the same day he disappeared or maybe a day or so later, but it’s not clear whether foul play was involved. The police are open to that possibility.
Has anyone looked into his job and people he worked with? I worked in Idaho around this time and there was so much gossip going around about bad things going on with this company.
Amaria Hall, who disappeared in 2019, is now 18 and has been found alive.
Case file link: https://charleyproject.org/case/amaria-lelyn-hall
This story always bothered me because of where he worked. I was working in Idaho around this time. There was so much gossip about this company and bad things going on there. Has LE ever investigated the people he worked with?
Hmm. Interesting. What was the name of his company? Would you care to say more about the “bad things” that happened at his company?
That makes me think of a dude I know who was having problems with his company. He thinks he accidentally uncovered a drug ring at work and he was threatened by multiple people. He was absolutely terrified and was saying things like “if I disappear, someone DEFINITELY murdered me.”
Fortunately he hasn’t disappeared. He quit his job, finally, because he was so scared, and sought work at a company that doesn’t have drug dealing happening on site.
Another thing I always wonder about when strange things are found at the scene of it was staged. Poor guy and his family.
Hey Meghan. There is a ViCAP flyer that shows clothing that could likely be from missing persons, most likely women and teenage girls. Can you take a look to see if they match ftom the cases you have or recognize the clothing’s’ characteristics.
That is interesting, and creepy. I wish they said a bit more about which offender, at least the states in which he was known to have encountered victims. Might help.
So I looked around a bit. I don’t know when that VICAP flier was released, but I found that a cold case murder from Aurora, CO was solved somewhat recently via genetic genealogy. The victim was Tangie Sims, who was stabbed in Aurora in 1996. The killer had cut himself, and they used that blood to track down the man, named Wesley Backman, who had died in 2008 in his 50s. He was a trucker, and Tangie was last seen approaching a semi before she was killed. I wonder if this is in relation to the VICAP flier? The article I found did say that the FBI had cooperation of Backman’s family in confirming the DNA, so if this flier is about him, and he died in 2008, they must have kept some of his things in order to have the items shown in the flier. Interesting…a possibly newly uncovered trucker serial killer?
After finding an article with just a bit more info, I’d say this is the case. I’d bet they’re looking for possible other victims of Backman.
Vincent, not to speak for Wendy but I thought I’d jump in. According to his case file Richard Bendele was a supervisor at the JR Simplot potato processing facility. As to what kind of bad things were going on there, this is all I could find, though I didn’t look too awfully hard:
In February 2002, Simplot agreed to buy equipment and pay penalties related to an unreported release of 80,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide from a facility in Pocatello, Idaho. The company violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act by failing to immediately notify the Power and Bannock Counties’ Local Emergency Planning Committees or the State Emergency Response Commission of the release.
In February 2004, J.R. Simplot Company agreed to pay the United States Environmental Protection Agency $525,000 and install $2 million in air pollution control equipment to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act at its silica sand mining facility in Overton, Nevada. The violation occurred in 1988 when the company removed equipment required by the federal Clean Air Act to control emissions of air pollutants.
That’s from Wikipedia.
So maybe he knew about this and was going to blow the whistle? Or it was something else? Or something more personal between him and someone else at work? Or not related to work at all?
I do have to wonder, if he was targeted, how they knew where to find him. It wasn’t like he was jumped at work or home. If it was someone he knew pretty well, they might have an idea where he might go if they knew he was going hunting, but that is some very remote country and even his truck would take some searching, out in the desert with the weather closing in.
The casefile also mentions he had had an alcohol problem but had been sober for some time, but also says he apparently tried to mark his location using a box full of beer cans. So he evidently had the empties in his truck. If I was a detective I might want to know if he was that much of a slob about his vehicle or if he was drinking again. (It also wouldn’t make me happy to think he might be driving around drinking and armed but that’s beside the point.)
I wonder why he didn’t call the police or the Forest Service or the rangers or somebody if he thought he was in danger? Most guys wouldn’t like their mama and girlfriend to be going out to get them in that kind of situation where they could end up in danger too.
So many question.