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Murder suspect in 1996 California cold case arrested in Texas

KFOR-TV Oklahoma City logo KFOR-TV Oklahoma City 5/12/2022 Grace Reader
Murder suspect in 1996 California cold case arrested in Texas © Provided by KFOR-TV Oklahoma City Murder suspect in 1996 California cold case arrested in Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) - An anonymous letter sent to the Santa Ana Police Department in California led to an arrest 26 years after a young man was murdered. The suspect, the victim’s girlfriend, was arrested in Austin, Texas.

Santa Ana police say on January 4, 1996, they were dispatched to a call of a Black male suspect who had broken into an apartment and stabbed Christopher Hervey, 22, numerous times in his torso area. Hervey died at the scene.

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Hervey’s girlfriend, Jade Benning, lived in the apartment and police said she made vague statements about the incident while they interviewed her in 1996. Neighbors reportedly told police they heard a loud argument in the apartment prior to the stabbing death.

Detectives say they were unable to determine exactly what happened to Hervey and the case went cold. Benning ended up moving to Austin.

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Police say more than two decades later they got an anonymous letter, in January 2020, implicating Benning in the murder. That prompted a homicide cold case detective to take another look at the case and do forensic testing.

Jade Benning (Courtesy Santa Ana Police Department) © Provided by KXAN Austin Jade Benning (Courtesy Santa Ana Police Department)

Though police did not say exactly what the forensic testing led to, they said they had enough evidence to issue a warrant for Benning’s arrest. Agents from the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force then arrested Benning at her Austin home, Santa Ana police said.

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Benning was still in the Travis County Jail as of Wednesday morning, according to jail records. She will be extradited to California where she will face murder charges, the Santa Ana PD said in a release.

Benning’s attorney, Paul Evans, did not have a comment.

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