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Crime News Breaking News

Letter Led To Texas Woman’s Arrest In Unsolved 1996 Slaying Of Boyfriend In California

Christopher Hervey was found stabbed to death in 1996 in a Santa Ana, California apartment he shared with his then-girlfriend Jade Benning. An anonymous letter ultimately led to his former girlfriend’s arrest, police said.

By Dorian Geiger
A police handout of Jade Benning

A Texas woman was arrested yesterday in the cold case murder of her live-in boyfriend, who was stabbed to death in a California apartment they shared 26 years ago.

Jade Benning, 48, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service near her home outside Austin, Texas on Tuesday afternoon in the unsolved 1996 killing of 22-year-old Chrisopher Hervey, officials said.

An anonymous letter tipping off police to Benning’s involvement in Hervey’s killing, as well as newly collected forensic evidence, ultimately connected the Texas woman to her former boyfriend’s murder, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.

A warrant for her arrest was recently issued by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, police said in a press release this week.

“Homicide Cold Case Detective Gibbons examined the case and conducted extensive follow-up to include forensic testing was completed, as well as consulting with forensic experts,” the Santa Ana Police Department said in a statement on May 3. “Ultimately, sufficient evidence was collected to obtain a criminal complaint, and a $1,000,000 warrant was issued for the arrest of Jade Benning.”

Hervey was found stabbed to death around 3:00 a.m on Jan. 4, 1996 inside a Santa Ana apartment he shared with Benning in the 2200 block of North Broadway Street. Police were told that a Black man armed with a knife had forced himself inside the dwelling and attacked Hervey. Hervey sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper torso, police said, and later died. 

The murder weapon was never located, according to the Orange County Register.

Neighbors later told police they’d heard shouting coming from the apartment for roughly 15 minutes prior to Hervey’s killing. Benning, who was 22 at the time, was interviewed by detectives but never arrested in her boyfriend’s slaying.

Benning moved to Las Vegas in 2001, and later relocated to Austin, Texas, authorities said.

“Detectives worked diligently on the case, however, the case went cold,” the Santa Ana Police Department statement added.

Interest in the case was reignited after an anonymous letter implicating Benning was sent to the Santa Ana Police Department in January 2020.
The Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force later followed leads to Austin, Texas. On June 11, 2020, a search warrant was filed against Benning in Travis County court, according to filings obtained by Oxygen.com.

Investigators, who were assisted by the Santa Ana Police Department and the Austin Police Department, “seized items of evidentiary value.” 

Benning is being held without bond at a Travis County detention facility, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. It’s unclear if she’s retained legal representation.

The 48-year-old is expected to be extradited back to Orange County, California to face murder charges in Hervey’s killing. Officials this week, however, were unable to specify when exactly the Texas woman’s extradition would be carried out. 

No further information was available from law enforcement this week. The Santa Ana Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office both didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on the case on Thursday.

Anyone with additional information related to Hervey’s 1996 murder is urged to contact homicide detectives at the Santa Ana Police Department at 714-245-8390.