Slain Ex-CIA Contractor's Wife Talks to Investigators

Bare-hands attack appears to be random

The wife of a slain ex-CIA contractor has recovered enough from her injuries to talk to investigators, and she's told them more than five people could be responsible for killing her husband.

A group of people brutally beat Cynthia Bennett and her husband, William Bennett, without weapons in the Lansdowne area of Loudoun County in March, she's now able to tell police. The attack left William Bennett dead and caused critical injuries that kept Cynthia Bennett from helping the investigation for several days.

Investigators have been interested in a suspicious white panel van that residents saw three people in the morning of the attack, but Cynthia Bennett said it could have been four, five or even more people. Her information also supports the idea that this was probably a random attack.

"Indicates to me that it could very well just be a random act," Loudoun County Sheriff Steve Simpson said. "That's obviously our worst fear and certainly the community's worst fear, as well. That same feeling the community would have that, 'Gee, this could have been me,' or 'could be me next time,' we're not at a point where we can comfortably say that that's not a possibility."

What Cynthia Bennett has not been able to provide is an idea of a motive or a description of any of the attackers.

Deputies found William Bennett's body in a grassy area next to Riverside Parkway early on March 22. Cynthia Bennett was found injured nearby. She was airlifted to an area hospital.

A caller reported a commotion surrounding a suspicious white panel van that morning.


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The FBI is assisting the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.

William Bennett was a CIA contractor until 2000. He was involved in a mistaken bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May 1999 during the conflict with Kosovo, according to intelligence sources. Three people were killed and 20 injured in that bombing.

The CIA later took responsibility.

Bennett was one of the officials who helped identify targets in Belgrade, according to a retired senior intelligence officer.

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.

The sheriff also wants to know about any suspicious behavior, like the following:

  • People unexpectedly leaving the area   
  • Unnatural interest in the status of this investigation detectable by paying close attention to the media 
  • Increased changes in a person's normal consumption of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
  • Missing work or abrupt changes in schedule (increase in sick day usage)
  • A noted display of nervousness or irritability  
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