Gaston County police are investigating what they are calling an apparent murder/suicide in the deaths of a husband and wife whose bodies were found Wednesday morning in a home near Mount Holly.
Police said their 5-year-old grandson was present when his grandmother, Terri Benfield, 64, was shot, but he may have been asleep at the time. Later, Benfield’s husband, Clyde, 69, called the mother to pick up the child from the residence.
When the mother arrived, she wasn’t allowed to check on Terri Benfield, police said. From the conversation she had with Clyde Benfield, they said the woman had a good idea that something had happened to his wife.
As the mother and child were leaving the residence, officers arrived and entered the home, finding Clyde and Terri Benfield dead in the same bedroom from gunshot wounds, authorities said.
Officers said the case appears to be murder/suicide, and no other suspects are being sought. They said the child, who had spent the night with his grandparents, was not injured and did not appear to be aware of what happened in the home.
The shootings occurred at 5 a.m. at a home on Michelle Lane, police say. That is off Kelly Road, between Mount Holly and Stanley.
Authorities said there have been no prior police calls at the residence, and no reported incidents of domestic violence have been discovered.
Gaston County Police Sgt. M.K Shelor said the Benfields had been married about 40 years, but “had not gotten along for quite a while.”
A neighbor, Jerry Winham, called the Benfields “nice, friendly people” and said there was no hint of any domestic problems. The Benfields lived in a brick home two doors down from Winham.
A retired USAir employee, Winham has lived in the quiet, wooded neighborhood for 27 years and said Clyde Benfield was also retired.
Winham recalled that Clyde Benfield was meticulous about doing yard work and also enjoyed deer hunting.
“He was just the type of person you’d want for a neighbor,” said Winham. “Friendly and courteous, never a bad word about anybody or anything that I was aware of.”
What happened Wednesday is “something you read about in the papers – not in your own neighborhood,” he said. “But it’s a tragedy here. And it’s a shame.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Gaston County Police Department at 704-866-3332.
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