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The Carthage Press
  • Couple arrested in murder

  • A man and woman have been arrested and face charges of first degree murder in the death of Raymond Ritchhart, 87, 1237 Douglas Court.
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  • A man and woman have been arrested and face charges of first degree murder in the death of Raymond Ritchhart, 87, 1237 Douglas Court.
    Brian Scott Benefiel, 48, and his wife, Kelli Lynn Benefiel, 27, both of Carthage, were arrested by Carthage Police late Thursday and face charges of first degree murder.
    Carthage police made the announcement at about 11 p.m. Thursday. Police Chief Greg Dagnan said the Jasper County Prosecutor still has to file the charges sometime Friday.
    Dagnan said he could not release any details about the cause of death or motive until after consulting with Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson on Friday.
    “All I can say at this time was that this was not a random event,” Dagnan said. “These two people were known to the victim and that's all I can say as to motive at this point.”
    A search of Missouri's online court records system showed that Brian Benefiel was listed as living across the street from Ritchhart in a 2012 divorce case filed by Brian Benefiel against Kelli Benefiel.
    That case was never completed and the last hearing, scheduled for June 2013, was cancelled when Brian Benefiel did not appear in court.
    Dagnan said the two were together when they were arrested and Brian Benefiel is officially being held on a probation violation.
    Dagnan said Brian Benefiel was no longer living in the Douglas Court home when the murder took place.
    He was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to receiving stolen property in September 2009.
    Kelli Benefiel is in jail on a 24-hour hold awaiting formal filing of charges.
    Dagnan said the Tri-State Major Case Squad was disbanded early Friday morning. As of 11 p.m., investigators had looked into 152 leads in the case.
    A neighbor who was checking on Ritchhart found him in his home at 1237 Douglas Court in Carthage and called 9-1-1 at 6:04 p.m. on Monday.
    The neighbor reported that Ritchhart had fallen inside the home and was possibly dead.
    Emergency workers with the Mercy McCune-Brooks Ambulance Service also responded, but police said it was determined that Ritchhart was dead.
    Dagnan said the autopsy had confirmed that Ritchhart's death was a homicide and he had died sometime on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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