In June 2017, Benjamin “Ben” Renick was shot to death at his reptile breeding facility in New Florence, Missouri. At the time, Ben was a successful businessman, and the authorities initially considered theft. NBC’s ‘Dateline: Venom’ chronicles how Ben’s wife, Lynlee Renick, was eventually found guilty of killing him. One of the motives considered was money since her spa business that Ben helped set up was struggling financially. However, before Ben’s death, he made a mark in the snake breeding community and was quite sought after. So, if you’re curious to find out more about Ben and Lynlee’s businesses, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Ben Renick Earn His Money?
As a child, Ben Renick grew up on a farm with his mother, father, and brother, Sam, in New Florence, Missouri. Due to his fascination with wildlife, initially, Ben would collect insects, lizards, and snakes every time he went on a hike. Soon, Ben’s interest led him to get a snake as his first pet. After that, he set out on his path of becoming a snake breeder. Ben used his knowledge of the species and understanding of genetics to design snakes in different colors and patterns through selective breeding.
Ben mainly specialized in giant ball pythons and anacondas, and he sold those as “designer pythons” for tens and thousands of dollars. A friend said of Ben, “He was like the Johnny Depp of pythons. He could do no wrong. The guy was amazing.” Ben’s company was called Renick Reptiles, and he was renowned all over the world, making sales internationally. The wildly profitable venture faced an uncertain future when Ben was murdered in June 2017.
At the time of his death, Ben was in the process of selling the python breeding portion of the business to Robin Lehner, a hockey player in the NHL. The sale was valued at a little over $1 million, and Robin still had to pay around half of it when Ben died. This led to a legal tussle between Ben’s estate and Robin. Ben’s lawyers had claimed Robin stole a few pythons and anacondas from the facility. However, Robin denied it and said the deal was voided when Ben died, and in his absence, no qualified caretaker was looking after the reptiles. In the end, the case was reportedly settled in 2019.
Ben Renick’s Net Worth at the Time of His Death
Given that the proposed python sale was about $1.2 million and Ben Renick lived on a property that was later sold for nearly $800,000, his net worth at the time of his death was at least around $2 million. This amount is honestly unsurprising, considering the fact he was actually known as the “rock star” of the reptile world and had even taken out a life insurance policy worth $1 million on himself shortly before the incident.
Where Was Lynlee Renick’s Spa Located?
Lynlee Renick was a certified massage therapist and always had dreamed of opening a spa. This dream became a reality when Ben agreed to fund it. In 2016 — with an experience of over nine years — Lynlee began operating Ascensia Spa at 2001 Corona Road in Columbia, Missouri, and employed a few licensed therapists.
The spa is also where Lynlee plotted her husband’s murder with an employee, Ashley Shaw, and an ex-boyfriend, Michael Humphrey. While Michael visited under the guise of getting a massage, the three talked about planning how to kill Ben. Another employee, Rachel Hunt, was also told by Lynlee about Ben’s murder. The business was reported to be in financial trouble and was closed after Lynlee’s arrest.