EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Michael Jason Buckelew and Enedelia Benavides, a deaf couple who met in college, were murdered during a trip to Edinburg.
Two days after the 20 year anniversary of the murder, the case remains unsolved.
ValleyCentral spoke with officers with the Edinburg Police Department, the lead agency in the investigation, to get more information on the case.
According to police, both Buckelew and Benavides were deaf. They met in college and had a group of friends that were also deaf.
In August 2002, the two, who were living in Houston at the time, made an “abrupt” trip to Edinburg to visit family.
On the night of Aug. 25, 2002, the two decided to attend a quinceañera with friends part of a deaf community.
Buckelew and Benavides left the quinceañera, and arrived back at a trailer home located at 6300 block of Gold Avenue in Edinburg. Within minutes of arriving back at the residence, a man covering his face with a bandanna made a forcible entry into the residence.
The man shot Buckelew, Benavides and a third female victim.
“This is more than likely a targeted incident,” Oscar Trevino, Edinburg PD Lt., said. “Somebody had to have followed them home.”
A fourth victim at the residence, another female, was hidden behind a door unbeknownst to the shooter, police believe. She was not harmed in the shooting.
According to police, both Buckelew and Benavides died as a result of the shooting. One died at the scene, and the other died at a hospital. The third victim in the shooting sustained “very serious injuries” and was airlifted to a military hospital for treatment.
A witness that lived in the area told investigators they heard shots nearby. They then looked out the window and caught a glimpse of the suspect.
The description of the suspect remains vague. He is described as an average-sized male, who had his face covered during the attack. He was said to be wearing dark clothing and driving a black passenger vehicle that appeared to be new, with shiny rims.
The witness saw the suspect as he left the residence, and ran to the awaiting car. It is unknown whether there were others in the vehicle.
When asked about the scene of the crime, authorities stated it seemed like a fast attack. It is not known whether anything was taken from the residence, but the surviving witness said everything happened quickly.
The investigation of this case was particularly complex because the network of friends and associates that the victims had were also deaf, police said.
Special arrangements needed to be made, including having interpreters available during the course of the interviewing process.
Detectives with the Edinburg Police Department received assistance from the Texas Rangers. The agencies went to different parts of Texas where they conducted more interviews and executed search warrants with the attempt to find new evidence.
“We exhausted everything,” Treviño said.
Police said they continue to keep in contact with the family and remain ready for any kind of lead.
“As law enforcement, as humans, we want to give them closure,” Gabriel Vela, Edinburg PD Lt., said. “Some time has passed but were more than willing to receive any type of information — and we will follow up on it as if it was the day after the incident.”
Those with information on this case are asked to contact the Edinburg Police Department at (956) 289-7700, or the Edinburg Crime Stoppers at (956) 383-TIPS (8477).