ROCKY MOUNT, Va. — For two long years, the parents of a murdered North Raleigh woman have waited for answers. They want to know who did this and why. The pain is almost too much to bear, but they continue to talk about it, to keep her memory alive and to keep her murder investigation open.
The parents of Stephanie Bennett remember their daughter with a smile that would not quit, a heart that gave freely and a special love for tulips. In May 2002, she was raped and murdered in her North Raleigh apartment. No one has ever been arrested for the crime.
"It just tears the deepest hole in your heart that you've ever hard torn in your heart before. It's a hole that will never be filled," said Mollie Hodges, Stephanie's mother.
"It's just a very, tough situation to be in, and one that you never dreamed you would be in this situation," said Carmon Bennett, Stephanie's father.
"Just to lose your child, it's just unexplainable," Hodges said.
The crime is also unexplainable to Raleigh police who, despite hundreds of leads, have not been able to find the killer. Lt. Chris Morgan has been on the case since day one.
"It just tears the deepest hole in your heart that you've ever had torn in your heart before. It's a hole that will never be filled," said Mollie Hodges, Stephanie's mother.
Stephanie Bennett would have been 25 years old this month. Instead of sending her daughter flowers, her mother is making an arrangement to put at her gravesite.
"There won't be any telephone calls saying, 'Happy Birthday, Stephanie,'" Hodges said. "No presents, no birthday cake, no party -- all I'll get to do is go visit her grave and wish her a happy birthday."
Bennett's parents find comfort in family and friends, but there will be no true comfort until her killer is behind bars.
"She was so undeserving of this. She had her life in front of her and tragically taken away for someone's sickness," Carmon Bennett said.
Last year, Bennett's father offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect. It generated hundreds of tips, but none of them panned out. Despite the amount of time that has passed, Bennett's parents remain convinced her killer will be caught.
Anyone who might have any information regarding this murder should contact the
Major Crimes Task Force at (919) 890-3555 or Crime Stoppers at (919) 266-CRIME(27463).