Local News

Siblings Face Their Mother's Killer 22 Years Later

Posted August 2, 2007
Updated August 3, 2007

— Cheyane Berrier waited more than two decades to face her mother’s killer.

She was just 7 years old when her mother, Benita Murphy, was killed.

Murphy was working a late shift at a convenience store on Feb. 23, 1985, when she was robbed, kidnapped, raped and murdered, police said.

She was 27 years old and had four young children, including Berrier.

DNA evidence cracked the cold case more than 20 years later. On Thursday, Murphy’s children were finally able to face their mother's killer - Johnny Mewborne - during his sentencing hearing in Lenoir County.

“I don’t think I can ever forgive you,” Berrier said. “Since I was 7 years old, I’ve been haunted by a faceless man in my dreams that can come in at any minute and take someone I love, take my family.”

Last year, DNA evidence linked Mewborne to the crime. He was already serving a life sentence for a string of violent crimes, and he admitted to killing Murphy.

Bonnie Murphy was 2-years-old when her mother was killed.

“She has been a stranger to me all my life. I don't have any memories of her. That's been the hardest thing I've had to deal with,” she said.

BJ Murphy was 4 when he lost his mother. He took a different tone when addressing Mewborne Thursday.

“I forgive you,” he said. “I hope you can forgive yourself.”

Mewborne could have faced the death penalty, but he will instead spend the rest of his life in prison, with the family's blessing. The plea agreement spares his life.

“I just want you to know that no matter what happens today, I don’t feel like you’ve gotten what you deserve. I think a life in prison is too easy,” Berrier said. “I think the death penalty is too easy, and I’m glad that you didn’t get it.”

Mewborne said nothing during the court hearing.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • richard2 Aug 3, 2007

    He should have got death.

  • I_love_ the_ News Aug 3, 2007

    This is horrible...just horrible.
    That monster will have to answer to a higher court.

  • Greyhound_Girl Aug 3, 2007

    Here here Ghostrogue...with no chance of parole, he's just living off the system now. Maybe they should make him work for his food/clothes/electricity. However, they need to take away the pool tables, basketball courts, Cable, and TV. These criminals should have to sit and "reflect" on their crimes, maybe even fill their cell with pictures of the people they've killed...to remind them daily. As far as I'm concerned, once you commit a violent crime and are convicted...they should lose ALL their rights!

  • PikeMom Aug 3, 2007

    The fear of knowing you are getting ready to be put down,has to be intense.Death is not too good,he will never know that sort of fear he into put this woman's heart right before she died.

  • UpwardlyMobile Aug 3, 2007

    I agree with the family, the death penalty would be too easy for him. He will suffer in prison for what he did. Regular prisoners do not like rapists. I'm just so sorry for the kids losing their Mother in that way when they were so young. I hope they realize and take comfort in knowing that many people truly care about their well-being.

  • Sessy - Italiana Aug 3, 2007

    Maybe now they can close that chapter and move on... maybe they never will. At least they can rest knowing who did it & that he will NEVER see freedom as long as he lives. My thoughts to the family and to Floyd_Lawson as well.

  • amypsychrn Aug 3, 2007

    I lived there when this happened. The farm they found her on backed up to ours. I frequented the c-store she worked in and I had met her. She didn't deserve what happened and he deserves so much more punishment than what he is getting. But nothing will ever completely heal the pain these children had to deal with.

  • Mmaker52 Aug 3, 2007

    He doesn't look like he would rob, rape and murder a woman.

    Goes to prove you just cant tell by how someone looks!

  • QT3.14 Aug 3, 2007

    I hope knowing who did this helps the family heal.

  • Rocknhorse Aug 3, 2007

    I cannot imagine the emotions that must have been taking place within all the family members. I can certainly understand the daughter's reaction as she was old enough to remember her mother and old enough to understand her being taken away. I also understand the son and think that he shows a sense of maturity. In any case, I feel that the man responsible is getting away with it. His life will not change as a result. I think that is totally unjust. He ripped a family apart, he needs to somehow be held accountable and responsible.

    At least now, hopefully the family can find some sort of closure. Sometimes it helps having answers. They are in my thoughts and prayers!