The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Body found at Belle Plains Road site in Stafford County
BY KEITH EPPS
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
The remains of an unidentified person were found over the weekend in the White Oak area of Stafford County, ending a week-long digging operation, police said.
Sheriff’s Maj. David Decatur said the remains were recovered on property at 881 Belle Plains Road. Decatur said police began recovering the remains on Saturday and completed the process on Sunday.
Police had been searching the site since executing a drug-related search warrant at the residence there on March 15.
Police brought in heavy equipment to begin digging after receiving information during the raid. The search warrant containing the affidavit outlining the reasons for the search has remained under seal in Stafford Circuit Court.
Decatur said police had information about a particular person, but as of Monday had not determined if the remains belonged to the same person they had been looking for.
The remains have been taken to the Chief Medical Examiner’s office in Richmond for positive identification and an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Decatur said the Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case as a homicide.
He said police have an idea of how the remains got onto the property, but he would not name a suspect in the case Monday.
A 58-year-old resident of the property, Dennis Paul Benzie, was arrested on multiple drug-related charges earlier this month. However, Decatur would not say if he was the source of the information or a suspect in the homicide.
While the digging is over, Decatur said detectives are following up on numerous leads in what he described as a “very active” investigation.
Following the raid earlier this month, Benzie was arrested on seven counts of distributing methamphetamines for alleged incidents that occurred between June 14, 2010 and March 25, 2011. He was also charged with five other offenses, including possession of methamphetamines, possessing a firearm as a felon and possession of a firearm while in possession of illegal drugs.
Police brought in excavating equipment and began scouring Benzie’s property shortly after he was taken to jail. Neighbors noticed a large police presence in the area, but for a week police said little about why they were there, though sources said they were looking for a body.
Decatur said more information will be released as soon as possible.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404