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Man charged in missing woman's death

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Oct 05 2012 04:47:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 05 2012 08:03:05 PM CDT
steven odell bennett

Johnson City Police Department

Police suspect Steven Odell Bennett of killing a woman who has been missing since Saturday.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -


Charges have been filed against a man police believe may be responsible for the death of a Johnson City woman. This is the latest development since 28-year-old Vonda Donaldson went missing last Sunday.

Two days after police said they pulled Vonda Donaldson's body out of Watagua Lake, Johnson City police believe Steven Bennett is to blame.

"Warrants were served on Mr. Bennett for second degree murder and for abuse of a corpse," said Lt. Steve Sherfey with the Johnson City Police Department.

Lt. Sherfey told us Bennett was not Donaldson's boyfriend, but the two were friends.

Police said he remains the sole suspect in this case.

Earlier, News 5 pulled a police report where officers said Bennett told family members he choked Vonda Donaldson to death during an argument at her apartment last Saturday night.

"We talked to him earlier [and] did not receive any information from him. He called back wanting to talk to us, and he actually went with the officers to show where he had disposed of the body," said Sherfey.

Once Donaldson's body was found, investigators said they felt confident they had enough evidence to place charges.

"Just because we placed charges, the investigation still continues. We have people to talk to. We have a lot of forensic evidence that's still been sent to the lab. We have to wait until that gets back," Sherfey added.

As police get more information about this case, they hope the web of information will begin to untangle.

"When you find one piece of the puzzle, you have to kind of go looking for the next piece that goes with it, So it'll be an ongoing process," Sherfey said.

Bennett was being held at the Washington County Detention Center on unrelated charges.

His bond is to be set at a hearing, and Bennett is scheduled to be arraigned in court Monday morning.