The city of Indianapolis, Indiana, witnessed a horrific incident on August 8, 1998, when Kasey Schoen was murdered in public. Although the investigation was quite challenging, there were quite a few eyewitnesses to the homicide, and the police believed they had the actual perpetrator behind bars. Season 3 of the podcast ‘Suspect’ takes the listener through the heinous murder and follows the subsequent police investigation into the incident. Let’s delve into the details surrounding the crime and find out more, shall we?
How Did Kasey Schoen Die?
A resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, Kasey Schoen was only 25 at the time of his death. Though he shared an excellent relationship with his family and friends, people who knew him described him as hardworking and generous, treating everyone kindly and always ready to help people in need. Moreover, Kasey was known for his amicable personality as he tried to remain friends with most and had no known enemies. On top of it, reports mention that he had high aspirations for his future, which were wiped away by his sudden and horrific murder.
While August 8, 1998, started as any other regular day, Kasey was returning home at night when he stopped his truck on 14th Street, near Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis. That was when bystanders heard five consequent gunshots break through the quietness of the night as he slumped forward on the steering. It did not take long for people to crowd around the truck; some even tried to get to Kasey in the driver’s seat, but it was too late by then. The 25-year-old was already bleeding profusely from the bullet wounds, and once first responders arrived at the scene, they had no choice but to declare him dead. Later, an autopsy determined that Kasey died after being shot five times from close range.
Who Killed Kasey Schoen?
The initial investigation into Kasey’s murder was pretty challenging as the police did not have any good leads to work with. While a thorough search of the crime scene revealed no evidence that could lead to an immediate suspect, the detectives realized that his truck was still running with his foot on the break and the transmission in drive, indicating that the victim had no plans of stopping at the location where he was shot. On top of it, Kasey’s friends and family insisted that he did not have any known enemies and there wasn’t anyone who would want to hurt him in such a heinous manner.
Nevertheless, investigators received their first significant breakthrough when a woman delivering newspapers to a vending machine about 150 feet from the crime scene approached them. After claiming to be an eyewitness to the murder, she insisted she saw a dark-skinned Black individual take out a gun and fire five shots at Kasey Schoen. The woman also appeared confident enough to identify the perpetrator and subsequently singled out a man called Leon Benson from a photographic lineup.
On the flip side, another eyewitness claimed she saw a career criminal named Joseph Webster at the crime scene, and police records showed that authorities had arrested him from the same neighborhood with several pounds of cocaine and a .38 caliber handgun. Yet, even though the handgun’s caliber matched the weapon used to kill Kasey, Joseph was never investigated for his role in the murder. Instead, law enforcement officials focused on Leon Benson as they considered him the prime suspect in the case.
Quite surprisingly, apart from the newspaper woman picking Leon out of a photographic lineup, there was no evidence tying him to the crime. People who knew him claimed he was incapable of such a gruesome act, and detectives did not find any forensic evidence that could tie him to the crime. Still, with the investigation proceeding at a snail’s pace, the police had no choice but to follow the original photographic identification, and they arrested Leon before charging him with Kasey’s murder.
Where is Leon Benson Now?
When produced in court, Leon insisted on his innocence and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Furthermore, while the prosecution had no forensic or physical evidence against the accused, the woman who had initially identified him from a lineup acknowledged that he was lighter-skinned than the person she saw at the crime scene. Yet, that testimony did little to change the jury’s mind, as they convicted Leon of murder and sentenced him to 61 years in prison in 1999. During his time in prison, he remained firm on his claim of innocence and even petitioned to get his conviction overturned.
While Leon’s love for his daughter, Koby Bluitt, helped him through the tough times, he claimed he even had to spend nine years in solitary confinement and had nothing but faith to fall back on. Eventually, his pleas were heard in March 2023 when a judge set him free after reviewing his case and exonerating him of all charges. Today, Leon is a free man living with his family in Indianapolis, and the evidence used in his exoneration points to a different person who is likely the real murderer. Nevertheless, at the time of writing, the police haven’t made any arrests, and Kasey Schoen’s murder remains unsolved.