Cops: Ben Edwards & Shyanne Sexton, His Teen Niece, Shot Themselves After Chase
Update: Earlier this week, we told you about what police initially thought was a murder-suicide involving a man and a young girl following a car chase from Cortez, Colorado to Shiprock, New Mexico. See our previous coverage below.
The spur for the pursuit: $41 in stolen gas.
Now, however, authorities believe both the man, Benjamin Edwards, and the girl — Shyanne Sexton, his fourteen-year-old niece — took their own lives as police closed in.
And reports reveal they were on the run from Florida owing to an investigation into what's described as an inappropriate relationship between them.
As the Cortez Journal notes, plenty of misinformation surfaced following the chaotic event, which got underway at around 11:03 a.m. on May 11 as a result of what's referred to as a "gas skip."
Claims that law enforcers from various agencies killed Edwards and Sexton proved to be false.
In fact, no officers or deputies fired during the incident, which lasted just over half an hour and included a race down U.S. Highway 491 at speeds of around 100 miles per hour.
However, Edwards is said to have fired multiple shots at the cops and even a German couple who were driving in the opposite direction through a construction room. Neither the couple nor anyone other than Edwards and Sexton were hurt.
They both died from gunshots fired into their mouths, suggesting two instances of suicide.
According to WJAX-TV, Edwards had at least three arrests on his record, including a recent bust for cruelty toward a child, burglary and criminal mischief.
In the latter incident, KOB-TV in New Mexico maintains, Edwards allegedly assaulted a seventeen-year-old and broke his windows.
Edwards told investigators that after the teen sold drugs to his daughter at a bus stop, he "came and beat his ass."
Sexton, meanwhile, was the subject of a runaway report.
WJAX revels that she had refused to go to her middle school one day, and when her mom returned home, she was gone — and so was a pistol belonging to her stepfather.
Authorities suspect that gun may have been the one Edwards used to shoot at the police on his tail.
The runaway report also documents an ongoing investigation into a possible sexual relationship between Edwards and Sexton.
In the end, the pair died together more than half a continent away from their Florida home.
Original post, 7 a.m. May 12: A small crime can lead to tragedy — and that appears to be the case in a double-shooting following a car chase from Cortez, Colorado to Shiprock, New Mexico.
Two people are reportedly dead: a man and a young girl.
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And what spurred the incident? The theft of $41 worth of gas.
That's the tale told by the Daily Times, a Farmington, New Mexico publication that's got the most thorough coverage to date of this strange and disturbing story.
The gas station in Cortez where the chase began.
Around 11 a.m. yesterday, May 11, the paper reports that a black Nissan Pathfinder with Florida license plates left a gas station on North Broadway in Cortez without paying the approximately $41 tab.
Cortez police officers began tailing the vehicle, with the pursuit heading onto U.S. Highway 491.
Before long, law enforcers from other agencies were following the Pathfinder, too, including representatives of Montezuma County Sheriff's Office, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, the New Mexico State Police and officers with the Navajo Nation.
Eventually, the parade reached Shiprock, at which point someone from the Pathfinder began shooting at deputies on his tail. No officers were hurt, but a couple of vehicles were hit.
The chase came to an end when the Pathfinder turned into a dead end on Bluff Road — and when the authorities finally reached the vehicle, which was teetering on the edge of a considerable precipice, they found two bodies inside and blood spattered on the interior side of the driver's door.
Early reports suggested a possible double suicide. But that possibility was called into question when it was learned more about the Pathfinder's passengers.
The Daily Times describes them as a man in his late twenties or early thirties and a young girl,
Autopsies and identification of the pair are pending — as is an explanation for why they were so hell bent on escaping from police wanting to hold them responsible for a tank full of stolen gas.
Here's a look at coverage from KRQE-TV.Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.