MAHAFFEY — As the quiet, rural community here reels from a homicide as the result of a stabbing early Sunday, many are wondering what circumstances led a domestic dispute to spiral into murder.
Additionally, questions about domestic violence have also arisen.
The body of Richard Allen Bennett, 57, of 10882 Ridge Rd. in Mahaffey, Bell Township, was found late Sunday night face-down in the snow about 30 feet from his residence wearing only a long sleeve thermal shirt and white brief-style underwear.
Punxsutawney-based state police found Bennett after his companion, Kayce Marie Lee, 31, who lived with him and their young daughter, reported to police that the couple had engaged in a domestic dispute and Bennett had fled the residence nearly 24 hours prior to the call — and she could not find him.
Lee was charged by police with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment and is now lodged in Clearfield County Jail without bond after Lee told police she stabbed Bennett with with a steak knife after a domestic dispute early Sunday morning.
Both Bennett and Lee have criminal records in Clearfield County.
Bennett was sentenced 25 days to one year in Clearfield County Jail for a case of criminal trespass and harassment that occurred on June 11, 1996.
Lee’s record in Clearfield County is a bit more lengthy, according to court records obtained by The Progress.
On Dec. 20, 2010, Lee entered a guilty plea for burglary — a felony of the first degree. She was sentenced to 6-12 months in jail, plus two years probation.
On May 23, 2011, her probation was revoked and she was sentenced again to 30 days in jail.
On June 14, 2011, Lee entered a guilty plea for a misdemeanor of the second degree for theft by unlawful taking in which she was sentenced to two years probation. She also received six months to one year in CCJ for access device fraud.
On Nov. 24, 2011, Lee’s parole was revoked and she was sentenced to 78 days in jail.
Also on Nov. 24, 2011 she entered a guilty plea for accidents involving death or personal injury — a misdemeanor crime — and was sentenced to six months to one year in CCJ.
In the affidavit of probable cause filed by state police at District Judge James Glass’ office in Houtzdale on Monday, police stated they interviewed Larry D. and Janet M. Spaid of Mahaffey, who told police that there had been previous injuries to Bennett, who told them Lee caused them.
The couple told police that they had observed stab marks on Bennett’s arms and chest area, scratches to his face and neck and also a black eye.
Also in the criminal report, Lee told police that Bennett had been the one who started the domestic dispute late Saturday night.
According to Suella Himes, Director of the Community Action Inc. Crossroads Project, which is a domestic violence program, either Lee or Himes could have obtained help.
Her office, which serves Clearfield and Jefferson counties, provided data from the 2016-17 service year.
“In Clearfield County, (Crossroads) served 389 female victims,” Himes said in a telephone interview from her Punxsutawney office. “We provided the same services to 75 male victims.”
She said in Jefferson County during that same year, Crossroads served 355 female victims and 80 males.
“The numbers are pretty much the same,” Himes said.
Himes said domestic violence claims both males and females as victims. In the Bennett case, it is possible, Himes said, that he did not feel comfortable coming forward.
“There are individuals who do not know where to turn. Some victims are not necessarily believed,” Himes explained. “With men, it is almost a double-edged sword. They feel embarrassed and shamed because society says, ‘You’re a man, you can stand up for yourself.’ It’s difficult for any victim to come forward.
“There a secret to it, and there are a lot reasons why people stay,” Himes explained. She said many victims remain in the damaging relationship for financial reasons, because there are children involved, or they have nowhere else to go.
Himes strongly urges anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or if one knows someone who is a victim, to speak up and not let a situation like the one that occurred in Mahaffey happen again.
“In those instances we want to convey to anyone who knows a victim — male, female, or child — who discloses they are being abused, please get them connected to a domestic violence provider,” Himes said.
The Domestic Violence 24/7 hotline is 1-800-598-3998.
Progress Staff Writer Jeff Corcino contributed to this story.