3 Florida men charged in connection to victim found shot to death and buried in shallow grave

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Source: Unsplash; Walton County Sheriff's Office

Sep. 3 2021, Published 5:21 p.m. ET

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Three men in Florida are in custody after detectives discovered a car filled with blood and then located the victim’s body in a shallow grave.

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On Aug. 14, deputies in Walton County and Santa Rosa County began a joint investigation into a missing person’s case and a short time later located a vehicle belonging to the victim in Mossy Head.

“A search of the vehicle was conducted where investigators found large amounts of blood staining consistent with an injury that could not be survivable,” the Walton County Sheriff’s Office said.

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Witnesses and evidence corroborated claims two persons of interest at the time, Shawn Bennett, 48, and Thomas Pride, 26, allegedly planned to meet the victim in order to rob and kill him.

On Aug. 24, the Walton County sheriff said, investigators discovered the victim’s body buried in a shallow grave in Crestview. An autopsy determined the victim died from a single gunshot wound.

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On Aug. 27, police arrested Pride in Okaloosa County and he was extradited to the Walton County Jail and charged with an open count of murder.

Bennett already had been in custody since Aug. 20 in Okaloosa County on an unrelated charged. Authorities served him with an arrest warrant on Sept. 1 at the county jail and he is currently awaiting extradition to Walton County on an open count of murder.

A third suspect, Stephen Trexler, was arrested Sept. 2 and is facing an accessory to homicide charge in connection to his alleged involvement in the crime in the days following the murder.

Law enforcement officials have not indicated what led investigators to the three suspects in the case.

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