Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beth Bentley - where is she?

Beth Bentley, Woodstock mother, wife, employee, friend of many, disappeared in May 2010 at age 41 during a trip from Woodstock to Mt. Vernon, Ill., which is 330 miles south of Woodstock.

Her disappearance has been hashed and re-hashed here. Previous articles can be found on this site by searching for "Bentley".

Just this week an out-of-state reader wrote to me and sent me a possible lead. I've been thinking of Beth over the past few months, as May 2017 came and went. The significance of May 2017 is that it is the seven-year anniversary of her disappearance.

In Illinois there is a Presumption of Death law, under which a petition can be filed in court to have a person declared dead. If such a petition were filed and granted, this would open the way to file for death benefits under any life insurance policies (individual or group) and Social Security benefits for any minor children. Seven years' worth of Social Security ought to be worth somewhere around $25,000.

There were rumors in 2010 of a large life insurance policy. Having been in the life insurance business, I knew there were companies that would issue unreasonably (in my opinion) large policies on wives and mothers. Such insurance was popularly called Wife Insurance. It wasn't unusual to see amounts of $50,-100,000, which would cover child care and household duties for a minor child, while a surviving husband worked. But some companies would routinely approve policies for $500,000-$1,000,000. The companies I was associated with (Penn Mutual, Connecticut General, Northwestern Mutual Life) would not have considered such face amounts for two seconds.

There are many suspicious factors surrounding Beth's disappearance. Among them are

1. Why was Beth's car parked in Jenn's garage when they left for Mt. Vernon?
2. Why did they rent a car for the week-end?
3. Did investigators ever check Illinois Tollway cameras to determine who was in the car, if and when it passed through toll plazas?
4. What time did they get to Mt. Vernon?
5. Did Beth really spend Saturday on a boat on Rend Lake?
6. Did Jenn really drive Beth to Centralia and leave her at the Amtrak station? Without learning from her "best friend" what Beth was up to?
7. What really happened to the Pogue's Pizza order that was reportedly ordered from Beth's phone at about the time she was to be dropped off in Centralia?
8. Why would Beth leave the rental car with Jenn, who did not have a valid driver's license?
9. What did Beth do earlier that month on Mother's Day? Was she really in St. Louis to meet a "mystery" man? Again, why wouldn't Beth share that information with her "best friend", Jenn?
10. Why wasn't the Woodstock Police Dept. notified earlier than 10:00PM on Monday?

What was the real coordination between Woodstock PD, Mt. Vernon PD and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept.? Did the Zone 7 detectives at the Illinois State Police ever really get involved, as the former chief of the Woodstock PD said they would be? (N.B., how interesting to search this morning for the ISP Investigations Division for Jefferson County (Ill.) and find that one county missing from the dropdown menu on the ISP homepage?)

Three-hundred thirty miles separate Woodstock and Mt. Vernon, which made it difficult location-wise and expensive for the Woodstock PD to pursue this case. The house that Beth and Jenn visited was in Jefferson County, not in the City of Mt. Vernon, but Beth and friends supposedly had dinner on Friday night at the Frosty Mug, which would have been the only reason for Mt. Vernon P.D. to be involved.

There was a fundraiser in Woodstock for search funds for Beth. Apparently, those funds were expended on a "search" in Las Vegas shortly after the fundraiser.

Many women in southern Illinois devoted considerable time to searching for Beth in 2010 and in 2011.

Do I have a guess as to what happened? And to who knows what happened? You bet.

On Friday I'm meeting with a retired detective in southern Illinois, and I'm hoping for some fresh ideas as to how to help an interested public bring closure to this case.


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