Police arrest two men in death of pregnant teen

Wednesday, July 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

THOMAS, Okla. (AP) _ A dispute over her unborn baby's paternity may have led to the death of a Thomas teen-ager, investigators said Tuesday.

Law officers arrested Trevor Wayne Benson, 18, and Kelly D. McCarney, 32, on complaints of first-degree murder in Monday's slaying of Vanessa Youngbear.

A passing farmer found Youngbear, 16, in a ditch near Weatherford about 8 a.m. Monday. She had been shot once in the head, said Kym Koch, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office found that Youngbear was 25 to 28 weeks into her pregnancy.

Investigators believe Benson, of Thomas, and Youngbear were arguing about whether Benson was the father of her child, Koch said. She had asked Benson to take a paternity test.

Youngbear rode with the men early Monday and was shot near the area where her body was found, Sheriff Mike Burgess said. He declined to say which person fired the fatal shot.

Later that day, authorities contacted Benson and McCarney, of Weatherford, and asked them to come in for questioning. Benson went to the Thomas police station while McCarney met police at the Weatherford Police Department. Both were arrested at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Burgess described Benson and McCarney as friends.

Neither has been formally charged. Custer County assistant district attorney Dan Jacobsma said the pair could be charged with two counts of first-degree murder, for the mother and her child.

But that would depend on several factors, including viability of the fetus, which courts have set a general guideline for 24 weeks.

McCarney has previously been convicted of second-degree burglary and driving under the influence, according to state Corrections Department records.

Benson does not have an adult criminal record.