UPDATE: Suspect arrested in the killing of engaged couple at Elkhart business

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 4:41 PM EST
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - The Elkhart County Homicide Unit has arrested a suspect believed to be responsible for a double homicide over the weekend.

Officials say 22-year-old Haley Smith and Dustin Carr, 37, were working on Saturday night, February 12th, at an Elkhart business when they were killed. An employee reporting for work late Sunday morning discovered their bodies in an alley behind the Papa John’s location at the C Street Center shopping plaza on Cassopolis Street, according to Elkhart Police.

During the investigation, detectives discovered that Jose Benitez-Tilley Jr., 19, of Goshen, had been inside the business as it was closing when he killed Smith and Carr. The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office stated the victims were targeted.

Smith’s relative told 16 News Now that Carr and Smith were recently engaged.

“[Haley] loved to read books. She loved sunflowers. Why would you hurt somebody like that?” raised Jennifer Conway, a family friend.

Conway said Smith had dated her son and lived in their home for nearly three years. Despite the couple breaking up, Conway said she still had great love for Smith, paying tribute on Monday outside Papa John’s where Conway confirmed Smith had worked until her death.

“You can’t have someone sit at your dinner table, right here next to you, for three years and not love that person, not care about that person, deal with all their highs and all their lows, and not care about them, share in their life,” said Conway, “a life that was taken for no reason.”

The crime stuns at least one business owner whose shop is a few doors down from where Smith reportedly worked.

“Something on this level? No, never. Never even thought it would - could happen around here,” expressed Ozzie Weyrick, owner of Red Beard Beef Jerky. “We’re really hoping police can get to the bottom of this and justice will be served.”

Formal charges are anticipated by Wednesday, and the initial hearing for Benitez-Tilley is scheduled for Thursday, February 17th, at 8:30 a.m. in the Elkhart Circuit Court.

The investigation is ongoing.

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