The murderer spoke with his slain wife's family for the first time on the Sally Jessy Raphael TV show last week. He attributed the killings to his dependency on drugs and alcohol and to his general poor health.
After he had remarried and been with his second wife for more than a decade, Benson confessed to murdering his first wife, Barbara, and his two sons, ages 8 and 15, with a hatchet and hiding their bodies in a rented storage shed. Investigators were unable to find a trace of the missing family until their remains were accidentally discovered and Benson confessed.
For nine years, Benson's second wife dutifully paid the storage fees on the shed, though she was unaware of its grisly contents.
"I just got tired of paying the fees, so I stopped paying them," said the second Mrs. Benson.
And despite learning of her husband's crime, she said her mate was "one of the finest husbands anybody ever had." And she still loves him.
Asked by a member of the television audience if she had any regrets, Mrs. Benson said her biggest regret was that she had stopped paying the storage fees on the shed without telling her husband.
To that, Sally's typically shockproof audience heaved a collective gasp.
Case Number 2: It was a vintage year.
Michael Milken - notorious as the junk-bond king of the go-go 1980s - had a very good year in 1992.
His 10-year jail sentence in connection with one of the biggest scandals in Wall Street's history, was substantially reduced by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, President Clinton's second choice for U.S. Attorney General. Wood, who originally sentenced him to a decade in the slammer, shaved eight years off Milken's term, citing his cooperation with investigators, plus his good behavior in prison, as reasons for the unusually generous reduction in his jail time.
One has to wonder how Milken could have done anything other than "good time" while behind bars. What else was Milken going to do in prison, run an insider-trading scam?
Yet the 47-year-old billionaire who for four years denied any wrongdoing won several concessions from the judge. Members of the Security Exchange
Commission, however, were not entirely happy with Judge Wood's decision. They charged that Milken had been of little help with investigations, and doubted he was entirely candid in providing information involving some of his
Still, Judge Wood said she considered only "undisputed facts," not the SEC's opinion, in reaching her decision to reduce Milken's time behind bars.
Last week, it was announced that the man once called everything from a thief to a genius to a scam artist and con man, is suffering from cancer. He was given his freedom last month.
Case Number 3: What's a nice guy like me doing in a place like this?
"I am lonely, afraid, depressed and toally humbled by strip searches . . . and confinement to an 8 x 10 cubicle," confessed businessman Frederick A. Gross in a letter to U.S. District Judge Thomas N. O'Neill Jr.
Gross paid a $100,000 fine in connection with his sentence of two years to a minimum-security prison camp in Minersville, Pa. following his conviction for a $140 million stock fraud.
After only a month behind bars, the 53-year-old millionaire sought a reduction in his sentence, arguing that his time could be better spent as a volunteer training underprivileged Philadelphia high school students in computer science.
As of last Friday, he was still awaiting word from the judge.
Case Number 4: Forgive them, for they know what they have done.
I couldn't believe my ears when two weeks ago, Coretta Scott King, the wife of slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had kind words to say about the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Was this the same woman married to the hero whom FBI head J. Edgar Hoover defamed as "the most notorious liar in the country"?
Yet there was Mrs. King, saying that the FBI of the 1990s "has turned its back on the abuses of the Hoover era."
Now, I call that forgiveness.