Steven Benson (murderer)

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Steven Wayne Benson
Steve benson.jpg
DOC Mugshot
Born(1951-07-26)July 26, 1951
DiedJuly 3, 2015(2015-07-03) (aged 63)
Criminal statusDeceased
Nancy Ferguson
(m. 1972; div. 1979)

Debra Franks Larsen Benson
(m. 1980; div. 1993)
Parent(s)Margaret Benson (Deceased)
Edward Benson (Deceased)
Conviction(s)First degree murder
Attempted first degree murder
Arson of a dwelling
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment
DateJuly 9, 1985
Between 9:17 and 9:20 a.m.
CountryUnited States
Location(s)Quail Creek, Naples
Target(s)Margaret Benson (mother)
InjuredCarol Lynn Benson Kendall
WeaponsPipe bombs
Date apprehended
August 22, 1985
Imprisoned atTaylor Correctional Institution

Steven Wayne Benson[1] (July 26, 1951 – July 3, 2015) was an American convicted double murderer of his mother, tobacco heiress Margaret Benson; and his brother (actually his nephew but later adopted), tennis player Scott Benson.[2] (Margaret Hitchcock Benson was heiress of the Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Co., Lancaster, Pa., and had no connection with Benson & Hedges brand cigarettes manufactured in the US by Philip Morris.) He was born in 1951 in Baltimore.[3]

On July 9, 1985, Benson placed a pipe bomb in the family car, in which Margaret, Scott, and Steven's sister, Carol Lynn Benson Kendall (a former Miss Florida runner-up), were waiting for Benson to join them when the Chevrolet Suburban exploded.[4] Kendall survived but was badly burned; Margaret and Scott died instantly from the bomb blast. Represented by attorney Michael McDonnell, Steven Benson was ultimately convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and arson of a dwelling.[5] He avoided the death penalty, and was sentenced to two life terms in prison.[6][7] Over the course of his sentence, Benson was transferred to various prisons because of constant threats and abuse from other inmates.[8]

Benson died at Taylor Correctional Institution in Perry, Florida of a stab wound to the right side of the head with a homemade knife on July 3, 2015.[9][10] Benson was in a long running feud with Cordell Washington, another inmate at the facility. The feud went back to at least 2012 after a series of assaults by Washington. Inmates told investigators that Washington planned to extort $1,000 from Benson within days after arriving at Taylor Correctional Institution. When Benson refused to pay, Washington and another man, identified as Marvin Taylor, ambushed and shanked Benson.[11] Washington was charged with murder for killing Benson, but was acquitted.[12]

In media[edit]

Dominick Dunne's investigative crime show Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice devoted an hour for the case of Steven Benson.[13] Benson is also featured in an episode of the New Detectives entitled "Short Fuse" (Season 2, Episode 3) and an episode of Florida Man Murders entitled "Killer Succession" (Season 1, Episode 3).[citation needed] The case was featured in Great Crimes and Trials and Infamous Murders. In addition, the Benson Family murder case was the subject of The Serpent's Tooth, a 1987 book by Christopher Andersen.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Inmate Population Information Detail - Steven Benson". Florida Department of Corrections. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  2. ^ "Crimes of the Riches". The New York Times. September 13, 1987.
  3. ^ Aten, Tim. "In the Know: Is that Benson guy still in prison? » Naples Daily News". Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  4. ^ "Car Bomb Victim Was Son, Not Brother, Heiress Says". latimes. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  5. ^ "`Heated Discussions` By Slain Heiress Told". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Anniversary recalls notorious crime". Marco Eagle. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  7. ^ "Benson Guilty Of Murders `He Doesn'T Believe It,' Lawyer Says". Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  8. ^ "Anniversary recalls notorious crime » Marco Eagle". Archived from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
  9. ^ "Naples killer Steven Benson who sought $10 million family fortune dies in jail with $30 to his name". NPDN. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Man who blew up his tobacco heiress mother and brother dies in Florida prison". LancasterOnline. Archived from the original on 1 June 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  11. ^ Carpenter, Jacob; Batten, Brent (April 13, 2016). "Simmering feud with another inmate led to stabbing death of Steven Benson, inmates say". Naples Daily News. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  12. ^ "Not Guilty: Jury deliberates just under an hour in murder trial of former TCI inmate | Perry Newspapers". Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  13. ^ "Court TV to air Benson story tonight". Archived from the original on 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2013-10-23.