Police sergeant accused of plotting Gladstone murder - KPTV - FOX 12

Police sergeant accused of plotting Gladstone murder

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Sgt. Lynn Benton Sgt. Lynn Benton
Susan Campbell Susan Campbell
GLADSTONE, OR (KPTV) -

Authorities investigating a murder say Gladstone police Sgt. Lynn Benton paid someone to kill his partner.

In May, Debbie Higbee-Benton was shot and killed inside her Gladstone salon.

Soon after, police arrested Susan Campbell and charged her with murder in the case, but now prosecutors say they think Benton was behind the plan.

On Thursday, Campbell appeared in court for her bail hearing, and the state's first chance to reveal their evidence in the slaying of Higbee-Benton.

While on the stand, Detective Brad Edwards made a shocking statement.

"We found that Susan Campbell entered into an agreement to receive $2,000 from Lynn Benton to kill or have killed Debbie Higbee," Edwards said.

Benton and Higbee-Benton were partners for several years but became estranged last spring.

Benton is now living as a man, after an on-going gender reassignment process. But in court, Benton is referred to as both he and she.

After Higbee-Benton didn't show up for a friend's birthday party on May 28, her friends called Benton to search his partner's salon, Edwards said.

Once inside the salon, Benton, who is a certified medic, found Higbee-Benton on the floor but did not try to revive her, according to officers.

"We're told that Lynn Benton leaned down and checked for a pulse on Debbie Higbee. Then she backed up and said, ‘This is a crime scene. Nobody touch anything,'" Edwards said.

Phone records also show calls were placed between Benton and Campbell every day before the murder, during the murder and after.

Gladstone Police Chief Jim Pryde says the case has been distracting for the department, but they are following the necessary steps.

"It's been hard for the whole community, as well as the police department," he said.

Benton's former neighbor, however, does not believe Benton was involved.

"I don't think she would've had any reason to do that," James Grosse said.

Edwards says Benton used to work with the Major Crimes Team and would know how to plan a murder or conceal evidence. But he says there are some things Benton did not hide.

"I didn't notice any major reactions. I didn't notice any remorse," Edwards said.

Back in court, the judge denied Campbell's bail.

Benton is still on administrative leave from Gladstone police. He is having an employment status hearing next week.

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