Bruce Bennett married Debra, then joined the Navy. He served four years at Pearl Harbor between 1976 and 1980 as a sonar analyst. Bruce and Debra had two children, Melissa and Vanessa. After he got out Bruce moved his small family to Aurora and worked at a family-owned furniture store.
“They led a very quiet life,” said his mother, Constance Bennett. “They worked hard and stayed home at night.”
Bruce enrolled in college and was trained as an air traffic controller. He was excited about the prospect of getting an assignment at a local airport, his mother said.
On January 15, 1984, several family members got together and had a birthday party for Melissa, who was going to turn 8.
Later that night intruder(s) entered the home some time between midnight and 6 a.m .
“It was a blitz attack for no reason,” said Marvin Brandt, who investigated the case as a homicide detective between 1984 and when he retired from the Aurora Police Department in 2002. Bruce confronted an intruder on the stairs, investigators said. He had deep gashes on his arms and body. Blood that splattered and smeared up and down the staircase marked the running battle. Debra’s body was found in her bedroom and Melissa and Vanessa were both found in their beds.
Bruce Bennett lost the battle with a killer who pummeled and sexually assaulted his 26-year-old wife, Debra, and 7-year-old daughter, Melissa. The attack also shattered the face of their 3-year-old daughter, Vanessa. Though Vanessa’s jaw was crushed, sending jagged bones into her windpipe, she survived after her grandmother, Constance Bennett, checked on the family later that morning when they didn’t show up to work at the furniture store. “It’s just like it was yesterday,” Bennett said. “It’s something I’ll never get over. It’s scary what people can do.” Small Vanessa went to live with Bennett after a lengthy series of operations that left scars on her arms, face and head.
An investigation in which more than 500 people were questioned did not uncover any leads to solve the case. If you have information that may relate to this triple homicide, please call the Investigations Division of the Aurora Police Department, 303-739-6018.