Police re-examine 1981 Sullivan County homicide

Sarah "Jeanette" Benson

It's been 40 years since a Farmersburg woman was killed in her home, and investigators with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police continue to seek answers.

On the evening of Jan. 2, 1981, 51-year-old Sarah “Jeanette” Benson returned home from shopping in Terre Haute to be surprised by an intruder inside her home. Her husband, Emory, was at work in Terre Haute at the time, according to a news release issued today by Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom.

Police re-examine 1981 Sullivan County homicide

Provided photoThis photo shows a vehicle similar to that which might have been used on the night Sarah "Jeanette" Benson was killed,  Jan. 2, 1981. The homicide remains unsolved and investigators are  re-examining files and evidence collected, said Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom.  One witness described the car as a Pymouth Valiant (pictured here), while another thought the blue sedan might have been a Chevrolet product.

At the time of Benson's death, neighbors described seeing a blue, four-door passenger car parked in the family's driveway, just prior to Benson returning home.

One of the witnesses thought the vehicle was a Plymouth Valiant, describing it as “robin egg blue".

Sullivan sheriff revives investigation of 1981 homicide

This photo is an example of the suspect vehicle seen at Benson's home on the day she was killed.

A second witness thought the vehicle was possibly a Chevrolet, describing it as having "shiny blue paint”.

A third witness described the sedan as being "very clean."

One neighbor observed a white male near the home. The male, who was wearing a vest, was seen exiting the blue sedan, before knocking on the Bensons' front door. The male was described as tall and thin, possibly in his 20’s, at the time.

Investigators believe that man was likely the intruder.

Investigators exhausted many leads over the years, but have not been able to develop sufficient information for an arrest.

Police re-examine 1981 Sullivan County homicide

Provided photoInvestigators continue to seek answers in the Jan. 2, 1981 homicide of Sarah “Jeanette” Benson, 51, of Farmersburg. 

Archive newspaper articles from the time made no mention of the description of the suspect or the blue sedan.

Police remind the public that the killer would now likely be in his 50’s.

Anyone with information concerning Benson's murder should contact the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office at 812-268-4308 or the Indiana State Police at 765-653-4114.


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