On the morning of November 5, 2007, Ben Stanford was seen for the last time. Ben was a 17-year-old senior at Donoho School in Anniston, Alabama and was the grandson of state senator Jim Preuitt. Ben’s vehicle, a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was missing but later found on Interstate 20 in Villa Rica, GA.
Ben was 140 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. His family said he had last been wearing a white ball cap, rust colored jeans and a long-sleeved fleece shirt which was dark gray and purple.
By the fourth day into the search for Ben, ERA King Real Estate, where his mother, Lynne Stanford works, had announced a $20,000 reward for valid information “leading to Ben’s safe return,” according to a mass e-mail that went out Thursday evening.
The family of Natalee Hollaway supported Ben’s family through the difficult time. They also received high tech help from a Texas group that has some experience with missing teenagers. A gas station just off of the interstate in Talladega County was the last place to have had any possible contact with the missing high school senior.
The home of Ben’s grandfather had been turned into a central information center. They had decided once and for all that they would perform another church of the area that his vehicle was discovered. The FBI had joined in the hunt for Ben. Giddn’s office, the Lincoln Police Department, the Talladega County Sheriff’s Department, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and state and local officials in Carroll County, GA., also got involved in the investigation.
A little over a week after Ben Stanford went missing, his body was found, less than a mile from where his car was found the previous week. Ben’s grandfather said to FOX News Radio “He was liked by everyone we knew, a super personality. He was our baby. He was the apple of our eye.” He said that the family was trying to come up with answers. Authorities searching for Stanford told FOX6 News that the body was found behind a Home Depot in Villa Rica, GA., about 1/4 mile from where Stanford’s car was found.
Authorities came to the conclusion the day after his body was found, that he had commetted suicide. He had supposedly shot himself in the head. Friends claim that he had gotten involved in drugs and felt that he had no other way out. A friend claimed that he had told him he was going to kill himself but he didn’t believe him. Ben’s family has posted a reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in his death. They find it impossible to believe that someone else couldn’t be involved in his death since his cellphone, billfold, and car keys. They also find it an awkward place to hold a gun in a suicide, since the gunshot was found behind his ear. The reward is $100,000. If you have any information please contact 256-223-2482, 256-761-7530, or toll free at 866-878-5245. You can also visit www.benstanford.com.