Coming from a small town, I can honestly say I wasn't prepared for some things when I moved to the city for stops along my career. When it came to traffic, restaurant wait times, and even crime, there was a lot that took me by surprise. For example, while living in an apartment in Clarksville, Tennessee, I had several Amazon packages stolen from my front porch in broad daylight. It had never occurred to me to have someone keep an eye on my place because, growing up in the country, I never had to worry about porch theft. I'm much more cautious now.

If you grew up in a small town like mine, you probably didn't see an abundance of crimes due to there being fewer people to commit them. That said, small communities are certainly not immune to such tragedies, as evidenced by one that occurred on January 2, 1981, in the rural town of Farmersburg, Indiana. Sadly, this incident wasn't just petty theft. It was murder.

Sullivan County, Indiana Sheriff's Office
Sullivan County, Indiana Sheriff's Office

The above picture is that of Sarah “Jeanette” Benson. According to the Sullivan County, Indiana, Sheriff's Office, she was found deceased in her home, which appeared to have been ransacked on that day in 1981. Police believe that she returned home from shopping in Terre Haute when she was met with a burglar who was already inside. It's been 43 years, and police are still searching for the killer as they continue to put calls out to the public for assistance. Each year on the anniversary of Benseon's death, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office posts a reminder on their Facebook page with information and pictures, noting they are still searching for the murder.

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Sullivan County authorities have said over the years that neighbors recalled seeing a blue sedan pull into the driveway of the house just prior to Mrs. Benson’s arrival. The car was said to be an older Plymouth Valiant with a “robin egg blue" color. One neighbor said they observed a white male subject exiting the same vehicle, who was then seen knocking on the Benson’s front door. Investigators believe this unknown subject, described as tall, thin, and in his 20s at the time, is likely the killer. He would be in his 60s today, in 2024.

Sullivan County, Indiana Sheriff's Office
Sullivan County, Indiana Sheriff's Office

Investigators note that they have exhausted many leads over the years and have not developed sufficient information for an arrest. That said, the Benson family is hopeful that sharing this information may be enough to jog someone’s memory. Police add that relationships do change over time, and it's not uncommon for someone with information to come forward years later.

One of my favorite true crime podcasts covered this story a few years ago, so if you would like to learn more about this incident, Anatomy of Murder has more details in their episode titled "Pick Up the Pieces (Jeanette Benson)." If you or anyone you know has any information regarding this murder, you can contact the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office at (812) 268-4308 or the Indiana State Police at (765) 653-4114.

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