The brutal murder of a successful snake breeder in 2017 led to intense speculation regarding the motivation behind his killing. But the authorities didn’t get anywhere until they received a tip from someone behind bars and clues from Ben’s phone. NBC’s ‘Dateline: Venom’ as well as Hulu’s ‘How I Caught My Killer: There Might Be a Target on Your Back’ delves into Benjamin “Ben” Renick’s murder and how the years-long investigation led the police to a startling plot. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Ben Renick Die?
Born in August 1987, Benjamin Blue-Brich Renick was a Missouri native. He grew up on a rural property with his family, including his older brother Sam, in New Florence. He married Lynlee Jo Gallatin in April 2014, and the two had a daughter, Emilia. The couple also raised a son named Matthew, whom Lynlee had from a previous relationship. Ben was a doting father to them both. The 29-year-old was a snake breeder who dealt with rare and exotic snakes, and at the time of the incident, he was in the process of selling a part of it.
Sometime in the evening of June 8, 2017, a frantic Lynlee called 911 to report finding her husband dead at his facility. The first responders initially believed Ben was killed by one of his snakes and set out to look for a missing reptile. However, the discovery of shell casings made it clear that Ben was murdered. It was soon confirmed he had been shot eight times, but it took officials close to three years to get to the killer.
Who Killed Ben Renick?
At the crime scene, the authorities did not find a lot of evidence to follow up on. The case thus turned cold and stayed that way for a couple of years until a local man named Brandon Blackwell contacted the police. He is Lynlee’s ex-boyfriend — they got together mere months after Ben’s death — and was in prison on stalking charges against her. As per him, she’d confessed to killing Ben, which finally gave detectives a suspect.
Soon, a disturbing plot to murder Ben came to the fore and involved multiple people. The authorities learned that Lynlee’s spa business was struggling financially, and the motive was money. They believed Lynlee enlisted the help of her employee, Ashley Shaw, and her former boyfriend, Michael Humphrey. Later, Ashley and Michael cooperated with the authorities, providing a clearer picture of what had happened.
Ashley and Michael stated that Lynlee alleged Ben was sexually abusing her. In the beginning, Ashley and Lynlee began thinking of ways to get rid of Ben and even tried to get the job done by giving him a poisoned protein shake. However, when this plan failed, Lynlee brought Michael, a former lover, into the fold. While Ashley stayed at the spa with Lynlee’s phone, Michael and Lynlee drove to Ben’s breeding facility on June 8, 2017.
At the trial, Michael and Lynlee provided contrasting versions of what happened that day. While Michael claimed to have seen Lynlee pull the trigger and kill Ben, she claimed he was responsible for the murder. According to Lynlee’s version of events, she was only at the facility to ask for a divorce, but Michael suddenly shot Ben as she ran to the car. It also came to light that Ben had actually texted a friend claiming he was worried Lynlee had tried to poison him with the milkshake because she stood to gain $3 million, especially as he did not have a will.
Ultimately, Ashley and Michael made deals with the prosecution and agreed to testify against Lynlee. Despite her claims to have nothing to do with Ben’s death, she was convicted of second-degree murder in December 2021 and sentenced to a lengthy prison stint. The prosecution believed money was the motive; Lynlee was the sole beneficiary of the property, his business, and a hefty life insurance policy. Furthermore, they thought she was worried Ben would take the children away with him in case of a divorce. Michael was also convicted on the charge of first-degree murder.
Read More: Where is Lynlee Renick Now?