Richard Benda killed himself, says Attorney General Marty Jackley. Benda shot himself in the gut, says the autopsy. Here's the full release:
PIERRE, S.D - Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the Division of Criminal Investigation has concluded its investigation into the death of Richard Benda, Sioux Falls.
On October 22, 2013, Benda was found dead in rural Charles Mix County by a family member, which was immediately reported to local law enforcement. The scene was secured by law enforcement at which time the Division of Criminal Investigation was contacted and asked to conduct a death investigation.
The autopsy, conducted by the Forensic Pathologist, Minnehaha County Coroner indicates that the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen and ruled a suicide. No physical or digital evidence has been found to indicate foul play. The investigation scene reconstruction, interviews conducted, evidence collected at the scene and forensic testing do not indicate foul play and are consistent with the forensic autopsy findings. The forensic testing included, but was not limited to firearm functioning, ballistic testing, DNA and fingerprinting.
The Attorney General would like to thank the Charles Mix County Sheriff’s Office and federal authorities for their assistance during the death investigation. The Attorney General again offers condolences to the family and friends of Richard Benda during this most difficult time and appreciates the public further respecting these private family matters.
If you have any additional questions please contact Sara Rabern at 605-773-3215 [Attorney General Marty Jackley, press release, 2013.11.21].
Jackley gives no indication of the nature of the weapon used to explain the only prior press description of "a bullet hole in his side." Update 10:29 CST: In a follow-up email, the Attorney General's office confirms that the weapon was indeed a shotgun, and that that shotgun was the only weapon found on the scene.
Left out of the press release is an explicit conclusion that the death was deliberate suicide or some mishap with the shotgun. The fact that there were "interviews conducted" means that some folks were able to tell the Attorney General information that supports the conclusion of a self-inflicted wound. Perhaps now that they investigation is over, those folks can speak to the press and explain what leads the state to say Richard Benda took his own life.
At this point, I will add only this: If it was suicide, Benda must have wanted to suffer. Shooting oneself in the gut is an awful way to go.
Update 10:14 CST: The AG's office sends out a clarification, confirming that while Benda's brother-in-law Jim Johanneson found Benda's body on Tuesday, October 22, "it was determined that the date of death was Sunday, October 20."
Still not explained: How Jim Johanneson finds the body of a man who shot himself in the abdomen, sees no blood, and at first thinks the man had died of a heart attack.