This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories. Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words. Those happen on this show, a lot.
Episode 54: Steven Wayne Benson Commits Parricide, Murder of Martha Agnew
Review of Grand Rapids, MI restaurant Denny
- Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it.
- Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
Steven Wayne Benson
Matricide is where you kill your mother. Patricide is where you kill your father. Parricide is where you kill a close relative, which could include a parent. On July 9, 1985, Steven Benson committed parricide when he attempted to kill three members of his family, his mother and two siblings, succeeding with two of them.
Steven Wayne Benson was born on July 26, 1951, to tobacco heiress Margaret Hitchcock Benson and her husband Edward. She also had a daughter, Carol Lynn. I couldn’t find the year, but I know that by 1980, Edward had died of lung cancer. Later, Margaret adopted a young boy named Scott. During the criminal trial, it was revealed that Scott was actually Carol Lynn’s biological son being raised by her mother, Margaret, as if her were her son. The family was a financially well off and living in an upscale area of Florida.
On July 9, 1985, Margaret was 63, Carol Lynn was 41 and Scott was 21 years old. That morning the family got ready to leave the house to go scout a spot for Margaret to build her dream house. First Steven said he needed to take their Chevrolet Suburban to a Stop-n-Go to get coffee and sweets. He was gone for over an hour. Later Steven said he took so long because he met with a business associate. (Side note: He could not recall that person’s name.) While getting in the car, Steven directed each family member on where they should sit in the Suburban. He put his mother and brother/nephew, Scott, in the front, with Scott driving.
As the family got into the car, Steven got out of the car to get something from the house. Steven told the police he needed to go back to get a tape measurer. Between 9:17 and 9:20 a.m. the vehicle exploded due to a pipe bomb being place underneath the front of the vehicle.
The initial discharge blew Margaret and Scott out of the Suburban, killing them. Carol Lynn, who still had her car door open, was also thrown free of the vehicle. She suffered severe burns but survived the bomb.
As Carol Lynn lay on the grass screaming for help, she testified that at first Steven stood on the house steps with his back to the car. Golfers from a nearby course came to the family’s assistance when there was a second blast from another bomb under the vehicle. The golfers testified that Steven did not try to assist his family, but instead sat down on the steps and began rocking back and forth. They said he looked as if he was in shock.
The trial had intense media coverage. Carol Lynn’s testimony was live broadcasted on television. She spoke of her brother watching her actively burn as the explosion caught her clothes and skin on fire. Carol Lynn claimed that he never tried to help her.
Prosecutors claimed that Steven killed his family in order to inherit the family money which was estimated to be around $10 million. He also feared he would be disinherited after he again misappropriated a large sum of money his mother had her lawyer looking into. It was estimated that Steven had embezzled about $2.5 million from his mother’s accounts. Carol Lynn also testified that her mother, Margaret, was contemplating removing Steven as a COO of one of her companies, as well as her will. Steven’s handprints were found on receipts for pipes like the kind used in the bombing.
Steven’s lawyers tried to argue that the bomb could have been the work of Scott’s enemies. Scott had a drug problem and was living a “fast track” life. Scott was addicted to nitrous oxide. One of the golfers that came to assist said he did hear Steven call out for help.
On August 7, 1985, Steven Benson was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of arson, one count of arson resulting in injury, and two counts of building and discharging an explosive weapon. He was spared the death penalty and was given life in prison instead. Steven took his appeals to the Supreme Court but never found success.
In prison, Steven was once attacked and stabbed by another prisoner. He also was found with a knife in his possession.
After spending 30 years in jail, Steven died while part of Jackson Florida’s penal system on July 3, 2015. (I found it interesting that he committed his crime when he was about to turn 34 years old and then he spent 30 years in prison. That was almost half of his life. Blows my mind.) He never admitted his guilt.
Murder of Martha Agnew
February 17, 2018, Martha was found dead in her bed in Ypsilanti, MI. She was divorcing her husband, Gregory Agnew. They were splitting their time in the home they shared together. Martha had been strangled, had blunt force trauma injuries to her head, and both fentanyl and heroine were found in her system. There was rumor of Martha being a drinker who did drugs recreationally, but not heroine. Ypsilanti police believe her death looked like to was staged to look like an overdose.
Gregory claimed she used cocaine and she had an addictive personality. During trial Gregory’s attorney had people testify that she did drink and snort coke. They claimed she was partying with an unidentified person, got in a fight with them, and died that night. There was blood found on Martha’s bathtub. Gregory’s attorney claims it came from the fight with the unknown person, and that she showered before going to bed and dying.
Prosecutors believe that Gregory used his key to enter the home while Martha was sleeping. He then injected her with a dose of heroine and fentanyl. This caused Martha to wake up and that is when she got into a fight. They believe that Gregory then left and came back to stage the scene.
Martha’s blood and DNA were found on the bottom of Gregory’s shoe. His DNA was found on the syringe and under her fingernails. He was found guilty on September 6, 2019 of first degree murder and his sentencing is September 26, 2019.
Twenty-six years previous, Gregory’s girlfriend had mysteriously disappeared. Jenn thought that the trial focused a lot on Tammy, the missing girlfriend.
Grand Rapids, MI
Ryan N. (reduced) 8/5/2016
If you’re hungry at 2am and want a bite to eat and don’t have a problem waiting an hour to get your food from an absolutely terrible wait staff: then I’ve got the restaurant for you. This steaming pile of shit they call a legitimate buissness is One; if not the absolute worst restaurant I’ve ever been to period.
To begin with I ordered a cup of coffee from this glass(picture shown) that was clearly in need of some cleaning. And by the time I saw the waiter again the coffee had already gone ice cold and keep in mind this resturant was as almost berrain of customers, and had at least two waiters on staff at the time.The smeared red lickstip on my glass must not have been the first time this had happened with the coffee that day either according to the waiter… All the while hearing the cooking staff fumble over what item they cooked and why it was that color; which sounds about as appetizing as you imagine. Shortly after which we had finally gotten our meals. Now to my surprise the meal was not bad but I was so in shock by the lack of competence from the staff all I could muster up to order was chicken strips; and let’s be honest it takes an absolute moron to fuck up chicken strips; even at two in the morning. My party’s order however looked undercooked and unappetizing…But at this point even mediocre food couldn’t salvage this disaster. In hindsight McDonald’s or taco bell would’ve been the better option for late night dining.
Pros- Iam pretty sure that the staff is unaware they work at a resturant.
Cons- They do
Grand Rapids, MI
Lisa M. (reduced) 4/1/2017
This Denny’s is seriously one of my favorite restaurants in town. I’ve had great service every time, the food is great every time. This sounds crazy, you don’t think I’d dennys as a steak restaurant, but they have consistently fantastic sirloin steaks. Its no $50 filet, but it’s a heck of a lot better than a lot of $20-$30 steals I’ve had.
Everything I’ve had here has been better than adequate, it’s really good. I can’t speak for every denny’s, but this one is great. The waitstaff is great. The environment is friendly. A+
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