Victim in Murphy arson and death identified, neighbors speak out

Murphy, Ore.-It all began after a call to the Josephine County Sheriff’s office on Friday October 6th for a trailer on fire.

Following that fire in the trailer investigators arrested 24 year old Troy Dawson in connection with the arson and death, and today investigators identified the victim as 70 year old Michael Benedict.

Benedict moved to the Grants Pass/Murphy area in 2010. According to his Facebook profile, he was a volunteer at Asante Three Rivers hospital and with the police in Grants Pass.

Benedict lived in what residents describe as a quiet and secluded part of Murphy, but all of that changed as sirens and flames erupted there on Friday.

Police who arrived at Benedict’s home along Board Chanty Creek Road discovered a fire and a crime scene. And when the fire was out investigators discovered the body of 70 year old Michael Benedict.

The Johnson sisters also live along Board Chanty Creek Road, near Benedict’s home. They tell NBC5 News that they heard about the tragic situation from their neighbors along Board Shanty Creek Road.

“Our neighbor came up and told us there was a fire. He came back and said it was actually a murder,” Mariah Johnson says.

While the Johnsons were Benedict’s neighbors they say that they didn’t know him. But even so the crime has left them shaken.

“I never really had been in that situation where its like right next to you.”

For more than a day. the girls were worried that they could be the next victims. They were relieved when police arrested 24 year old Troy Dawson.

But the arrest didn’t bring any more answers or closure for the victim’s neighbors who say that they don’t recognize Dawson and aren’t sure why anyone would want to kill the man next door.

Oregon State Police are still investigating the fire as well as the relationship between Benedict and Dawson.

NBC5 News Reporter Emily Biehl graduated from Chapman University with a Bachelor’s degree in Television and Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Leadership Studies.

Emily interned at KNBC in Los Angeles and was a reporter and Executive Producer for Chapman News, Orange County's only live newscast. She also recently produced a documentary about homelessness.

Emily loves baking, spending time with family and friends and telling people what animals they resemble!

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