Local News

Beating Death Shakes Benson

Posted August 19, 1996

— A weekend fight over a woman has left a Seymour-Johnson airman dead and a community in shock.

The crime occurred in the parking lot of a gas station along a popular cruising strip in downtown Benson when Airman 1st Class James J. Dormio (pictured, left), 21, of Cumberland, Md., was kicked, hit, punched and knocked to the ground. Dormia was wearing a full-leg cast at the time because of a recent motorcycle accident.

Charged with murder are 16-year-old Douglas Johnson (above, left) and 25-year-old William Pope (second from left, above), both of Benson, 25-year-old Teddy Harmon of Coats (second from right, above), and Pfc Steven Gustafson (right, above) of Fort Bragg. Johnson was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. A fifth suspect, 17-year-old Charity Pullen, of Fuguay-Varina, was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Epperson says Pullen is Johnson's girlfriend, and that she took him away from the scene of the beating.

The incident comes at a time when Benson residents are calling for a ban on cruising

Donna Allen is the mother of a 17-year-old girl. She says cruising has become a dangerous practice, even though she remembers a time when she enjoyed it herself. Times have changed, she says.

Michelle Young knew the suspects. She says the violence wasn't surprising, but Dormio's death was.

Dormio met the woman he allegedly telephoned while cruising through Benson, police say. About 2,000 people cruise through the town of about 3,400 on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday nights, Epperson said.

Dormio entered the service in August 1993 and had been stationed at Seymour Johnson since December 1993, base officials said.

Police say drugs and alcohol were not factors in the beating


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all