Ex-neighbor, friend of victim testifies in Nemnich trial

A friend and neighbor of murder victim Linda Benson from 1975 told jurors this morning that Benson was a good mother who was happy with her life in the days leading up to Benson’s murder in July that year.

“Was she the type of person who would fight back if she was attacked?” Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle asked in the trial of 65-year-old Jerry Nemnich.

“Yes,” Maureen Henson, who used the last name of Grant in 1975, testified this morning,

Despite what evidence suggests was a violent struggle between an assailant and Benson, who along with her daughter suffered multiple stab wounds, Henson testified she went to bed around 10:30 p.m. and heard nothing unusual in her unit, 311 at Chateau Apartments, on July 24, 1975, or during the early morning hours of July 25. Henson’s apartment was directly above the Benson apartment, unit 211.

Henson said she was awaken only around 6 a.m. by a loud meowing of the Benson’s cat below, as if it had been locked out the front door or was unable to get inside a sliding-glass door on the Benson balcony. Later on July 25, Henson said she noticed the curtains were still drawn on the sliding-glass door, which was also unusual.

Around 8 p.m. July 25, the bodies of Linda Benson, 24, and her daughter, Kelley, 5, were discovered by Benson’s common-law husband, Steve.

Henson testified she and Linda Benson spent the afternoon of July 24 practicing yoga in Henson’s apartment, which was interrupted late in the day by Kelley, who ran upstairs to tell her mother somebody downstairs was looking for her. Henson testified she didn’t know who was looking for Linda Benson that afternoon, or if it was one person or more.

On cross examination, Henson acknowledged Benson’s mood had changed when the two last saw one another around 9 p.m. on July 24, in front of the apartment complex.

“She seemed distant, tired,” Henson testified this morning. “She wasn’t upset. It just seemed like something was on her mind.”

Jurors this morning also heard testimony about a mystery man, who Henson described in a 1975 police report as roughly 50-years-old old, with a beard and mustache, who randomly walked into Henson’s apartment on July 21, three days before the murder. Henson was celebrating her birthday with Linda Benson. Henson eventually told detectives “some old man” walked in on them, then said something neither Henson or Benson understood. The man then walked away.

“They (Henson and Benson) laughed about it and said the man looked strange,” Tuttle said, reading Henson’s statements from a 1975 police report.

Henson testified she didn’t know a Jerry Nemnich or recognize the name from 1975, or that of Nemnich’s girlfriend in Grand Junction, Sandy Higgins.

Read the full story in Wednesday’s Daily Sentinel.


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