Investigators say an 83-year-old Craig County woman was beaten to death Wednesday night at her home in Bluejacket.
The district attorney there said Chelsea Raulston will likely be charged with murder and Charlee Adams with accessory after the fact.
Velma Bennett was a spitfire according to her son-in-law Red Walker.
“Very, very outgoing. Very ornery,” he said.
He said Bennett always kept her family on their toes and was quite a hard worker.
“She liked to tease and cut up. Quite a character,” Walker said.
He said his mother-in-law mowed lawns for extra cash, took care of her large property by herself and, though elderly, could outwork most men half her age.
“Tough. She still, 83 years old, ran a chainsaw,” Walker said. “She's worked that way all of her life.”
But her grit turned to goodness when it came to pets and people.
She was caring for 16 stray dogs, and Walker said Bennett had recently taken in Raulston and Adams.
He said Bennett was letting the two temporarily stay in an RV on her property because she felt sorry for them.
“She was always kind, caring, trying to take care of about anybody if they were down and out or anything else. Sometimes she couldn't afford it, but she still tried, you know,” Walker said. “That's what got her hurt last night, got her killed.”
The Craig County District Attorney's Office believes Raulston beat Bennett to near death Wednesday night.
Walker said his wife was on the phone with Bennett when the suspects began arguing with her. Soon after, the phone went dead.
When his wife called back, Walker said a woman answered and claimed Bennett was asleep, then hung up.
Bennett’s daughter got worried, called 911 then asked a neighbor to make sure everyone was OK. The neighbor discovered Bennett had been badly beaten.
“So we hurried down here and she was already on the ground. And I shook her and I said, 'Velma! Velma!' and then I saw, I thought she was already gone,” neighbor Tooter Blevins said.
Bennett was still alive, but barely.
Her daughter and son-in-law made it to the scene before Bennett was flown to a hospital, where she died.
“You hope and pray for the best, but it was bad enough and I knew if she did live, it wasn't gonna be probably good,” said Walker. “And I knew she wouldn't have wanted to live like that.”
The day before Bennett was murdered she buried her 48-year-old grandson, who she had raised.
“She told the preacher, ‘ya know, in 17 years I'll be 100 and I want you to take care of yourself so you can be the preacher at my funeral, too,’” Walker said.
Her son-in-law said Bennett would have no doubt lived to see a century if her good deed would have been appreciated.
Walker: “Pretty low-life, that's all I can say. Ya know, I hope The Lord forgives them."
Tess: "Can you?"
Walker: "Yeah, yep. I have to…And I think even Velma would be that way, I mean I really do, she was that type of woman."
A graveside service will be held at 10:00 Tuesday morning at Big Cabin Cemetery.
Walker said Peaceful Animal Adoption Center in Vinita is taking in all Bennett’s animals.