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Woman Murdered Husband For Farm, Million Dollar Life Insurance Policy
After Ben Renick was found dead in his snake breeding facility, Missouri officers uncovered a web of betrayal, affairs, and financial problems.
A wife in her 20s shot her young husband after only a few years of marriage, viciously killing him in cold blood at his place of work all for one thing: money.
Ben Renick’s murder is at the center of the latest episode of Snapped, airing Sundays on Oxygen at 6/5c.
“He would have had a long, beautiful life to live, and that was stolen from him,” Sam Renick, Ben’s brother, told Snapped. “Those kids deserved a father, and they were denied that. And the ripple effects of his murder will span generations.”
Ben Renick first reconnected with his old friend Lynlee in 2011, at the age of 24. Lynlee and her son soon moved into a home he built on his family’s farm in Montgomery County, Missouri, and before long, the couple had their first child together. By 2014, Ben and Lynlee were married. The two were connected by tragedy, as both had sick mothers who had died.
Ben’s father had died by suicide soon after his mother’s death, leaving the family farm in his name. Ben later converted a barn on the farm into his business, Renick Reptiles, Inc.
“Ben was a successful snake breeder,” Richie Berck, Ben’s friend, told Snapped. “He was kind of a pioneer in that whole industry. He was definitely very well-known in the snake breeding community. Like I would say worldwide.”
Lynlee, meanwhile, had been to massage school, and in 2016 she even opened up her own spa. That’s where she told police she was on June 8, 2017, when she got a call reporting her husband had never shown up to pick up their children.
After getting the kids, she told police she went to the snake facility to look for him. At 6:36 p.m., she contacted 911 dispatchers to reveal she had found him lying in a pool of blood.
“We got the call that there was a man dead,” Darrin Haslag, Missouri State Highway Patrol Master Sergeant, told Snapped. “It was suspected that it could have been a snake that’s loose in the facility. And the facility had somewhere between three and four thousand snakes. So, it’s a little unnerving not knowing what you’re going to walk in on.”
But the possibility Ben was killed by one of his own snakes was quickly ruled out.
“There were some shell casings that were underneath Ben’s body,” said Devin Foust, Missouri State Highway Patrol Investigator, to Snapped. “He’d been shot in the back several times, and then ultimately shot in the back of the head.”
The coroner determined Ben Renick was shot six times from behind, and likely died within two hours of Lynlee Renick’s call to 911.
When officers talked to Lynlee, Foust decribed her as “very forthcoming,” but she immediately pointed to her brother-in-law, Sam, as a possible suspect.
“When their dad shot himself, the way that everything was set up, Ben and I actually owned all of the property,” Lynlee said in a recorded police interview. “Sam kind of basically just went to Ben and he was like, ‘You need to give me half of the property.’ Ben was like, ‘No, I can’t jeopardize my family and this business.’ So, you know, he just said a lot of really hurtful things to Ben.”
Sam agreed he was hurt by his father’s decision to leave the farm solely to his brother but denied having any involvement in Ben’s death.
“It wasn’t an equal inheritance,” Sam told police during recorded interviews. “But it is what it is. Life’s not fair. I can’t afford the farm. That’s an expensive place to live.”
Police confirmed Sam’s alibi and he was ruled out as a suspect.
But as police looked through Ben and Lynlee’s social media accounts and computers, they realized Ben and Lynlee were not as happy as she described them to be. Through Facebook messages, Ben indicated Lynlee was cheating on him.
When police questioned Lynlee about having an affair, she admitted to seeing someone else. But he was on a trip with friends at the time of the murder, so he was ruled out as a suspect.
Investigators also learned through Facebook messages that Lynlee was having trouble paying her business loans and owed thousands of dollars.
“Ben was having to front a lot of the bills for Lynlee’s spa, and this created a really big wedge between the two,” explained Lucas Geisler, a reporter with ABC 17 News.
The insurance agent handling the Renick life insurance policy also contacted police. After learning Lynlee was a suspect, they had decided to pause paying Ben’s $1 million life insurance policy. The agent told police Lynlee had begun trying to cash that policy in within hours of Ben’s death.
Lynlee Renick also started trying to sell the farm and Ben’s reptile business soon after his murder — and Sam Renick went to court to try and stop the sale.
When Lynlee allowed officers to read her text messages, they found several between her and a man named Mike H.
Lynlee told officers Mike H was Michael Humphrey, a client she used to work on, as well as an old boyfriend.
“They talked the whole day of the murder, and they haven’t talked since,” Foust said. Red flags were raised.
When police interviewed Michael Humphrey, he claimed he and Lynlee reconnected because Ashley Shaw, the spa’s business manager, wanted some stereo work done, and he could provide that service.
As investigators checked Lynlee’s phone records to look for evidence of any other affairs, a number belonging to a Brandon Blackwell also came up frequently.
“They had started a sexual affair, and it turned out it was just three days before the murder,” Foust said.
But Blackwell had an alibi at the time of Ben Renick’s murder.
However, soon after the killing, Lynlee went public with her relationship with Blackwell.
“We started to see Lynlee’s social media accounts pop up with another man, and then very quickly after that, we found out she was pregnant,” Sam said. “Lynlee entered into a relationship with Brandon Blackwell almost immediately after the time of the murder. Brandon was married and had two kids.”
Blackwell left his wife, and Lynlee Renick won her court battle against Sam to sell the farm. After the farm sold for $740,000, Lynlee moved to Columbia, Missouri with Blackwell and all their children.
“I lost a farm that my family spent 40 years maintaining,” Sam Renick said. “We could never have imagined losing the farm in that way.”
Lynlee’s relationship with Blackwell was short-lived. In 2019, she took out a restraining order against him, and in January 2020, he was arrested for violating that order.
While in jail, he asked to speak to police.
Blackwell confessed that Lynlee told him the week before Ben was murdered, she’d tried and failed to kill him.
“According to Brandon, Ashley Shaw, her coworker, helped her obtain narcotics — in this case Percocet — and come up with a plan to poison Ben,” Foust said.
After crushed-up Percocet pills in a protein shake only made Ben sick, Blackwell told police Lynlee reached out to Michael Humphrey, her old boyfriend, and asked him for help — which matched up with Lynlee’s phone and text records.
Humphrey was arrested.
“Lynlee had spun this tale of domestic violence and domestic abuse,” Foust said. “Michael believed this. Michael wanted to help. He had brought her a gun to her spa in case she needed it.”
Humphrey told police Lynlee asked him to go with her to see Ben. She said she was leaving him and wanted to pick up her stuff. But when the two arrived at Ben’s snake facility, Lynlee had the gun with her. Humphrey claimed Lynlee tried to hand him the gun, but he refused. When Ben opened the door, she shot him.
“I turned around as soon as the first shot rang. I ran out the door,” Humphrey told police in a recorded interview. “I heard probably another one, maybe two. And by that time I’m standing by the car asking her, ‘What the f--- just happened?’ You know what I mean? And she’s like, ‘We gotta go, we gotta go.’”
When police arrested Lynlee's co-worker Ashley Shaw, she only agreed to talk if she received prosecution immunity.
She told officers she agreed to help Lynlee kill Ben because Lynlee said she was in an abusive relationship. Shaw admitted to getting the Percocet and helping find Michael Humphrey. When Lynlee and Humphrey were at the farm, she also helped to establish an alibi for Lynlee — sending texts and correspondence on Lynlee’s phone to make it appear she was at the spa.
On Jan. 16, 2020, more than two and a half years since Ben Renick’s murder, his wife, Lynlee, was arrested at her home.
In October 2021, Michael Humphrey went on trial. Even though he said he wasn’t the one to pull the trigger, Humphrey was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But after Humphrey helped police track down the murder weapon, and after he agreed to testify against Lynlee Renick at her trial, his conviction was lowered to second-degree murder and parole was put back on the table.
In December 2021, 33-year-old Lynlee Renick went on trial for murder. She testified on her own behalf, telling the jury Michael Humphrey pulled the trigger, not her.
But Humphrey and Shaw told the jury that was a lie.
Lynlee Renick was convicted of second-degree murder, and received a sentence of only 16 years, to the disappointment of Ben’s family. She’s set to be released from the Chillicothe Correctional Center in 2038, at the age of 49.
“We were happy that she was sentenced to the 16 years she was given, however, my brother’s life was worth a lot more than 16 years,” Sam Renick said. “Those children. All the lives that were destroyed by this, by these actions."