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Benefield's family key in capturing accused killer, sheriff says

Crime scene in Marshall where Alicia Benefield's body was found Crime scene in Marshall where Alicia Benefield's body was found
Sheriff Tom McCool during Wednesday's press conference. Sheriff Tom McCool during Wednesday's press conference.
HARRISON COUNTY, TX (KSLA/KLTV) - Harrison County Sheriff Tom McCool says family members played a key role in the capture of Alicia Benefield's accused killer, Rodris Webster, 25, of Elysian Fields.

"They continued to encourage him to talk to authorities..the family gave us a great deal of information..we followed up on that in a planned pattern of attack on every physical geographical location..people to talk to and other things.. What really lead this case to a conclusion was the family's support of our investigation and their support of finding out the truth about what happened," McCool said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Webster was charged with Benefield's murder Tuesday night after deputies discovered Benefield's body near the intersection of Farm to Market Rd. 31 and Elysian Fields Rd. in Marshall at around 10 p.m. He was also charged with felony possession of a firearm.

Family members said authorities told them Benefield was strangled and shot to death. McCool said authorities believe Benefield was in a vehicle with Webster traveling from Elysian Fields to Marshall. They left Marshall and headed back towards the Elysian Fields area, where the murder occurred.

The 19-year-old had been missing since Friday. McCool said Webster was found on the evening after the murder in Waskom, TX., and that investigators found a muddy hoodie and her car keys in a dumpster behind the Food Mart off Interstate 20. Investigators confirmed the hoodie belonged to Webster.

During Wednesday's news conference, McCool was asked what the motive was for the killing.

"I can't answer that question. I'm not sure the suspect can answer that question adequately either," McCool answered.

McCool said his department had received a call from a resident near Elysian Fields that Benefield couldn't leave a house Friday night because her car wouldn't start, and that one of the deputies helped her and followed her into Panola County.

McCool says it's been a tough five days, but he thinks justice can now be served in Benefield's death.

"We have a statement, we have the body and all that evidence led to his arrest," he said.

According to the sheriff, Webster had been in the Harrison County Jail on a number of occasions and had a previous felony conviction.

Harrison County Sheriff's Office Public Information Office Jay Webb says Webster was arrested on January 5 on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The complaint that led to that charge was filed by Benefield. Webster remained in the Harrison County Jail until March 5, when Benefield dropped the charge.

Right now, investigators are awaiting physical evidence from the autopsy report to determine Benefield's exact cause of death. The body has been sent back to the Northwest Louisiana Crime Lab for a forensic autopsy.

Webster was booked into the Harrison County Jail Tuesday night on a charge of murder related to the death of Alicia Benefield and a charge of felon in possession of a firearm. His bond has been set at $1.015 million.

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