Jose Benitez-Tilley: Indiana man gets 65 years after killing 2 people and sexually abusing dead female victim
WARNING: This article contains information that some people may find triggering or upsetting. Discretion is advised.
Jose Benitez-Tille, 20, who used to work at Papa John's, was charged with the murder of two of his co-workers and for attempting sexual intercourse with one of them after he shot her. Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno sentenced the Indiana man to 65 years in prison. The victims, Haley Smith, 22, and Dustin Carr, 37, worked late at night at the fast food restaurant when the incident occurred earlier this year in February.
The accused had pled guilty in June, for the double murder, in exchange for the prosecutors dropping charges of sexual abuse with Haley's corpse. At around 10:11 am on February 13, 2022, a Papa John's employee dialled 911 to report finding the corpses of his colleagues who had worked the closing shift the previous evening. The restaurant, located at 1500 street of Cassopolis Street, Elkhart, was Jose Benitez-Tilley's place of work before he was fired for "unspecified reasons".
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He had visited the place at around 10 pm to ask for re-employment and left after a "brief conversation", as described by other restaurant workers. He returned a little while later and wanted to speak with Dustin Carr. The last verbal account of Jose in the restaurant is at 11:15 pm on February 12, 2022. CCTV footage from a nearby Family Dollar store confirmed Jose's presence at the crime scene, and the timestamps coincided with the approximated timings of the victims' death. His car, a golden Dodge Caravan, was used to identify the criminal, which left the building at 11:32 pm.
During the Goshen Police Department investigation, he admitted to having killed the two employees and revealed he attempted to have sexual intercourse with the female victim before he tried and failed to dispose of their bodies. Investigators added, "Jose advised that during his second visit to the restaurant, he used a handgun to shoot and kill both Haley Smith and Dustin Carr." He "partly disrobed Hayley" to engage in intercourse. Before leaving the crime scene, Jose stole Hayley's purse, Dustin's jewellery, and cash from the office. He also tried to get to the restaurant's safe but could not.
A detailed affidavit was made public after the investigators of the Elkhart Homicide Unit took Jose's interview. Families of the two read victim-impact statements on Friday, July 15, and were visibly shattered at the monstrosity of the crime committed against their loved ones.
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One of Smith's family friends, Jennifer Conway, said, "You can't have someone sit at your dinner table, right here next to you, for three years and not love that person, not care about that person, deal with all their highs and all their lows, and not care about them, share in their life. A life that was taken for no reason."