Report: 4-year-old daughter of victim and killer, witnessed attack
The deputy prosecutor expects formal murder charges against Benjamin Allan Hankins to be filed Wednesday
9:31 PM, Jun. 6, 2011
Written by ANDREW WALKER
MUNCIE -- A police report released Monday indicates the 4-year-old daughter of Lisa A. "Nettie" Hankins and her estranged husband, Benjamin Allan Hankins, listened in as her father shot and killed her mother Friday morning in his Harrison Township home.
A probable cause affidavit for Benjamin Hankins' arrest on preliminary murder charges reports the preschooler told an investigator with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office that she was outside when she overheard her father tell her mother to "lay down and die," to which her mother responded, "I'm sorry Ben, I'm sorry and I don't want to die."
The girl, who had reportedly seen Benjamin Hankins "come to the door with a gun behind his back," then listened as he shot her mother "several times" inside the house.
The document also contains several other previously unreleased details of the shooting, including Benjamin Hankins' recollection of the attack to investigators just hours after it occurred.
At 7:44 a.m. Friday, emergency dispatchers received a 911 call from Benjamin Hankins, who said he had shot his wife in his house in the 5800 block of North Delaware County Road 600-W, just north of Bethel Avenue.
When officers arrived, according to the report, they found Lisa Hankins, 32, lying on the floor in the kitchen. She was rushed to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, where doctors attempted a life-saving surgery before her death, according to Delaware County Coroner Scott Hahn.
Hahn said Monday he was awaiting results of Lisa Hankins' autopsy.
According to the affidavit, Benjamin Hankins, 36, told investigators Friday he had recently separated from Lisa, his wife of 10 years. Lisa Hankins had filed for divorce last September, and the case was still pending at the time of her death, according to court records.
Benjamin Hankins said the shooting occurred after Lisa Hankins had stopped at her husband's home so their two oldest children, ages 9 and 8, could catch the bus to Wes-Del Elementary School. Their youngest child, a 4-year-old daughter, was reportedly left alone in the car when an argument broke out between her parents.
In a frantic call to 911 dispatchers, Benjamin Hankins, a reserve police officer with the Gaston Police Department and employee with the Indiana Department of Corrections, claimed he shot his wife in self-defense after Lisa Hankins "pulled my gun on me. And then I shot back."
Benjamin Hankins' statements to police, according to the report, do not indicate his reasoning behind the attack, however. Police on Friday did confirm more than one weapon was found at the scene.
During the argument, Benjamin Hankins told investigators, he "went into the living room and retrieved a gun from the couch" and then "pointed the gun at Mrs. Hankins and shot her several times." Benjamin Hankins said he shot at Lisa Hankins more than once, but was unsure exactly how many times bullets struck her.
The police report also indicates a recent history of threats, in the form of emails and text messages, from Benjamin Hankins to Lisa Hankins. Kurt Walthour, an investigator with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, would not comment Monday on the content of those threats, citing the ongoing investigation.
Walthour did note Benjamin Hankins' demeanor in his interview with investigators on Friday following the shooting.
"(Benjamin Hankins) showed little emotion," Walthour said.
Zachary Craig, a deputy prosecutor with the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, said Monday he expects formal murder charges against Benjamin Hankins to be filed Wednesday in Delaware Circuit Court 2.
Both Walthour and Craig said police are still trying to interview potential witnesses and collect evidence to form the best possible case against Benjamin Hankins.
"We've got one individual who has passed as a result of this incident, we've got one individual currently sitting in jail, and we've got to make sure we've got it right," Craig said. "We've got the evidence that we've collected so far, but despite that, (Benjamin Hankins) is still innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers, so we still have a lot of work that needs to be done."