22-year-old man charged with killing his parents, 3 teenage sisters in southeastern Iowa


Monday, October 16th 2006, 5:55 am
By: News On 6


BONAPARTE, Iowa (AP) _ Shayne Bentler told the 911 dispatcher her brother was ``going to do something.'' Next came the sound of a gunshot and someone yelling, ``Shawn, no!''

Then the line went dead.

A day after 14-year-old Shayne and four other family members were gunned down in their southeastern Iowa home, 22-year-old Shawn Bentler was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents and three teenage sisters, according to the Van Buren County sheriff's office.

Bentler was being held on a $2.5 million bond at the Adams County jail in Quincy, Ill. An extradition hearing was scheduled for Monday morning.

Investigators have not offered a motive for the slayings, said Jim Saunders, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety. ``It's going to take them a while,'' he said.

The victims were found early Saturday near Bonaparte, according to the Van Buren County sheriff's office. They were identified as Michael Bentler, 53; his wife, Sandra, 47; and their daughters Sheena, 17; Shelby, 15; and Shayne.

The sheriff's office said it received the 911 call from Shayne Bentler at 3:38 a.m. Details of the call were included in sheriff's documents.

Authorities said they received a second 911 call at the same time from Sandra Bentler's cell phone. That call went unanswered.

Shawn Bentler was arrested Saturday in Quincy, Ill., about 60 miles from the family's home, on an unrelated charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Adams County sheriff's office.

The Bentlers were an affluent family that owned an elevator and lumber company that served most of southeast Iowa.

On Sunday morning, a deputy stood guard at the street corner in front of the home, which sits on 20 acres on a sprawling tree-lined bluff just outside Bonaparte.

At the St. Boniface Catholic Church in Farmington, where the Bentler family worshipped, some parishioners wiped away tears as they knelt to pray, while others sat transfixed, their hands on their faces or clasped in prayer.

``You saw this in the Amish country when those girls were shot, and now it's in our backyard,'' youth minister Mike Linnenbrink said, referring to the shooting deaths of five girls at Amish school in Pennsylvania this month. ``It's not surprising at all that we turn to church at this time. This is a tight community, not just in Van Buren County, but in all of southeast Iowa.''