Massive Turnout for Lansdowne Murder Meeting - NBC4 Washington

Massive Turnout for Lansdowne Murder Meeting

Nearly 1,000 residents turned out, searching for answers in the killing that has shaken their community.



    Massive Turnout for Lansdowne Murder Meeting
    William and Cynthia Bennett were attacked as they exercised near their home in Loudoun County.

    Almost a thousand concerned residents of Loudoun County's Lansdowne community packed a meeting with investigators Thursday night, in search of answers in a seemingly senseless killing in their quiet neighborhood.

    Dozens of people wait to ask questions of Loudoun detectives, including what they should be looking for, if the killing was gang-related, and if police believe it was a random attack.

    Just blocks form the meeting, deputies found William Bennett's body in a grassy area next to Riverside Parkway early Sunday morning. His wife, Cynthia Bennett, was found injured nearby. She was airlifted to an area hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

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    "I think the 800 pound gorilla in the room is this gang issue," one neighborhood resident said at Thursday's meeting. "If you could share with us some indication on whether you think it is gang related or not."

    The sheriff's department, however, was hesitant to comment on the specifics of the investigation.  "There's a lot that we can't answer in this investigation because we don't want to compromise the investigation, and there's a lot we can't answer because quite frankly, we don't know yet," Major Larry Beardsley told the crowd. 

    The couple may have been attacked by three people seen driving suspiciously in the area in a white-panel van, investigators said. The Bennetts were wearing jogging outfits.

    Investigators still do not know the motive for the attack or whether it was gang-related or random. They also don't know if the attack took place were the couple was found or if the bodies were moved to that location.

    "If this does turn out to be strictly random, that's probably our worst nightmare and for people who live in this community," Loudoun County Sheriff Stephen Simpson said.

    The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office got a call at around 5 a.m. Sunday. When deputies arrived, they found William Bennett's body. He had suffered severe head trauma.

    Cynthia Bennett wasn't discovered until the sun started to rise. She was in a grassy area across the street, over a fence.

    "We found the blood on the fence and then we found the female laying over the fence as though she may have been injured and crawled over the fence and was out of sight of the suspects," Simpson said.

    Neighbor Tammy Goddard never saw William Bennett go outside during daylight hours except to run to the mailbox in his shorts to pick up his mail, she said. The Bennetts had their groceries delivered once a week and their laundry picked up and delivered daily, Goddard said. He only went out at night.

    "I just thought he liked to keep to himself," Goddard said. "He was very reclusive. We had difficulty getting him to say hello."

    Investigators vow not to give up until the case is solved.

    "We've got a day shift and night shift that are working on this basically 24 hours a day since Sunday morning, and quite frankly we're not going to stop until we get to the end of it," Beardsley said.

    Investigators ask anyone who might have seen or heard anything unusual in the area Sunday morning to call the sheriff's office at 703-777-0475. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Loudoun Crime Solvers at 703-777-1919.