Suspect in 1985 killing to be returned to Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Missouri man has been arrested in Iowa and charged with killing his grandfather and another elderly man more than 25 years ago, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said Brian McBenge, 49, of Sikeston, was charged with second-degree murder in the 1985 slaying of 75-year-old Harold Messler, who was found beaten and stabbed to death in his St. Charles home.

McBenge has also been charged in the December 1984 death of his grandfather, 81-year-old Robert Adams, in Crawford County. Adams was beaten to death in his home in Steelville, according to a probable cause statement.

McBenge was arrested Friday in Ankeny, Iowa, where he had been doing construction work recently. Banas said the U.S. Marshals Service helped locate McBenge, who has signed extradition papers and would likely be returned to Missouri by Thursday. He was being held in the Polk County, Iowa, jail.

McBenge’s brother, Cecil McBenge, 46, was also arrested in Polk County, Iowa, on Monday and was being held on an assault charge from Cole County, Mo. Cecil McBenge had not yet signed extradition papers, Banas said.

Online court records do not list lawyers for either McBenge brothers, and phones listed under their names in Missouri were apparently disconnected.

Banas said the case came together recently because an investigator for his office, who had also investigated Messler’s death as a St. Charles police officer, continued to follow another suspect in the case, Kurt Perkins. Perkins pleaded guilty in 1993 to second-degree murder in Messler’s death and was paroled in 2010.

Banas said that investigator, Michael Harvey, was hired by Banas “explicitly for the purpose of following up on the McBenge cold case,” and other cold cases.

“It’s been a long time waiting to get the evidence together,” Banas said.

He said Perkins had helped prosecutors in the case against Brian McBenge until 1990 when he was reportedly stabbed by another inmate. Banas said the inmate who stabbed Perkins was McBenge’s brother, Cecil. Banas said the stabbing was an attempt to keep Perkins from testifying against Brian McBenge.

The assault charge against Cecil McBenge is from that prison attack on Perkins.

Perkins began cooperating with the investigation again after he was paroled in 2010, Banas said.

Another witness also came forward recently to say he had driven Brian McBenge to his grandfather’s house the night Adams was murdered, Banas said. That witness was not identified in the probable cause statement.

Banas said McBenge has also been named a suspect in the 1984 death of an elderly St. Charles woman, but no charges have been filed in that case.

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