The recordsdata describe the scene of the double homicide whereas kinfolk await replies »Albuquerque Journal
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For those who knew them best, Thomas Crum and Lee Benson had enough in common. Both men were fathers who had previously conflicted with the law and family members said they had changed their lives.
Crum wanted to open a car dealership while Benson went to school to become an electrician.
Their paths crossed – and were cut off – in early May when they were found dead in Crum’s car after it crashed off Interstate 40 in Albuquerque.
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Crum, 39, who drove for a ridesharing service, had been shot multiple times and Benson, 28, was in the back seat with a bullet hole in his chest. The police found a metal chain around Crum’s neck. The car was littered with cartridges, along with a 9mm pistol and a bloody knife.
“Unfortunately, it leaves a lot of speculation and imagination,” said Cheyenne Crum, Crum’s sister. “Whatever happened in that situation … something happened, and this is just speculation that it was between Benson and him … but we don’t know.”
The records released by the New Mexico State Police last month do not clarify what may have led to her death.
State Police spokesman Mark Soriano said the investigation is “active and ongoing” and no other suspects or people of interest are wanted.
“Once the investigation is over, the case will be submitted to prosecutors for review,” he said.
According to state police incident reports and the video from the lapel camera:
At around 1 a.m. on May 7, State Police Officer Toby Lafave was driving a woman from the main police station near Carlisle and I-40 to the Metropolitan Detention Center when he was stopped by a woman who claimed a car had crashed.
“Could be a car in the ditch over here … I’ll check,” Lafave said to the woman in the back seat as he stopped.
Lafave went down the ditch to Crum’s silver Nissan, which was “nose down” on the paved path by the Arroyo. The car alarm went off, the lights blinked, and the wipers clicked as Lafave got closer.
“There’s someone in there,” Lafave said. Crum’s body, hung by his seat belt, was visible in the driver’s seat.
“Hey, boss,” Lafave said, tapping the car mirror, but Crum didn’t answer.
“I can’t tell if someone is in the car, but there is blood on them. … Was he shot? ”Lafave told another officer who showed up. Soon Lafave noticed another body in the back seat.
When the bodies were being removed, police noticed gunshot wounds to Crum’s upper body and a chain around his neck. Benson had a gunshot wound in the chest and dried blood on his hand.
Each man had two cell phones.
In the car, police found four used cartridge cases, several knives – one with a bent tip and covered in blood – and more than $ 500 in cash. There was a black pistol in the front passenger’s hall and a pistol magazine next to it. The car smelled of marijuana and two bottles of medical marijuana with Crum’s name on it were found in the back seat.
An autopsy revealed that Crum had been shot six times – three bullets had hit his right arm forward. The fatal shot penetrated under his right armpit and hit both lungs, leaving him alive for “any number of minutes”.
Details of Benson’s autopsy are not known.
The front of the car was splattered with blood and a bullet splinter was found near the accelerator pedal.
Tyrone Pitts said Crum worked for his bar ride service, G-Ride. “I’m a G … a G that’s taking you,” Pitts said of the company name.
He said Crum started out as a customer and was interested in becoming a driver. Pitts said Crum had been a driver for less than a year.
“I know him, I know who he is, but otherwise I don’t know why he was shot, who did it and what led to it,” said Pitts, adding that the drivers handle their calls themselves for him did it I don’t know if Benson was a customer.
“I continued to write to him”
The families of the dead have more questions than answers.
“I just want to know what happened to my son,” said Kristina Benson, adding that he is the second child she had to bury.
She said she saw Lee two days before and tried to reach him all weekend.
“I kept writing to him: ‘Son, where are you? I’m looking for you … you scare me now, ‘”said Kristina Benson. “I thought I would at least see him for Mother’s Day and he didn’t show up.”
She said state police knocked on her door the next day and told her that her son was dead. They didn’t tell her any details or answer her questions.
“My son was a good person, a good man. … I didn’t think he had any enemies out there. … He had a little boy whom he adored, “she said.
Kristina Benson and Jeff Garcia, Lee Benson’s stepfather, said Lee – who was originally from Farmington – had been in trouble in the past but would go to Central New Mexico Community College to become an electrician.
She said he has a 6-year-old son, enjoys watching stand-up comedy and playing video games.
“He was serious about life, wanted to be a good guy and live well,” said Garcia. “… He wasn’t a bad guy; he wasn’t a gangster or none of that stuff. “
Crum’s sister Cheyenne said her brother was “following his normal routine” the night he was killed, telling friends, “This is my last ride; I will go home.”
“Everything seemed satisfactory and in order. There was nothing that made someone have a red flag like something was happening, ”she said.
Like Benson’s family, she and her relatives are waiting for answers.
“During the month, we gradually received information about the number of people in the vehicle and the shootings in the vehicle,” she said. But not much else.
Crum said her brother is the oldest of four siblings who left five children of their own, from their teens to their 20s. She said he went through “many trials and tribulations” that made him a very giving person with his heart on his sleeve.
“He was very ‘what you see is what you get'” she said.
She said he had been a “worker” for the past few years who wanted to open his own car dealership. In his spare time, Crum did stand-up comedy around town and often practiced his routine for family members.
“There was his way of thinking; it wasn’t about anything mischievous or annoying, ”said Cheyenne Crum.
She said she would miss having the person who took care of her the most.
“To have a protector, the person who could have been protected … he was a protector in front of a young child,” she said.