MARSHALL (MCT) — A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in memory of a Panola County woman whose body was found late Tuesday. Her ex-boyfriend is in Harrison County Jail, charged with her death.
Rodris Webster was charged with murder Wednesday morning, relating to the death of Alicia Benefield, 19, who was reported missing over the weekend.
Bond was set at $1 million for the murder charge. He also was charged as a felon in possession of a weapon, with bond set at $15,000 for that charge.
Benefield’s body was recovered about 10:20 p.m. Tuesday after Webster led investigators to a clay pit near the intersection of FM 31 and Elysian Fields Road in Marshall. Benefield had been strangled; she also had two gunshot wounds to the back of her head, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Tom McCool said Wednesday that officials had questioned Webster for more than 15 hours before he agreed to lead officials to the young woman’s body.
McCool said Webster’s cooperation could be attributed to the support the sheriff’s office had from the families on both sides of the case, who were interested in finding the missing 19-year-old.
“He felt that, and I think that was somewhat of a motivator for him,” McCool said.
Webster’s arrest and the recovery of Benefield’s body was a bittersweet moment for those involved.
“I feel relieved; I’m satisfied because I said today I wanted to find her,” Joe Benefield said Tuesday night after learning that his granddaughter’s body had been found.
“I prayed to God just take me to her, and it proves that God answers his prayers,” he said. “She was found, so that means God is real. That means when you pray, that he will not let you down.”
Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Nancy Judge ordered that Benefield’s body be sent for autopsy to the North Louisiana Crime Lab.
Family members reported Benefield as missing Friday. Authorities said she was last seen about 4:30 a.m. leaving her ex-boyfriend’s home on Old Town Road in Elysian Fields.
Funeral arrangements are pending with Downs Funeral Home.
An Alicia Benefield Memorial Fund has been set up at Capitol One Bank to assist the family in funeral costs.
Members of Marshall Against Violence also will be collecting donations at City Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday.
Members of Marshall Against Violence will hold a candlelight prayer vigil in memory of Benefield at 7 p.m. Friday on the east parking lot of the Harrison County Courthouse in downtown Marshall.