Five cited for failing to report death

Arizona Daily Star/April 4, 2003
By L. Anne Newell and Stephanie Innes

Police have cited five people in connection with the death of James Killeen, a Tucson man over whose decomposing body relatives and a religious leader prayed for three weeks, reportedly hoping for a resurrection.

Killeen's wife and son, the religious leader, his wife and another man were issued citations Wednesday for failing to report a death, a misdemeanor charge, said Sgt. Marco Borboa, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of four months in jail, two years' probation and a $750 fine, said Deputy City Attorney Laura Brynwood.

Cited were: Eleanor C. Killeen, 49, Timothy J. Killeen, 20, Stanley Adair Bennett, 51, Jill Bennett, 47, and Francisco Antonio Contreras, 21.

Other people at the home - including the Bennetts' children - while Killeen's body lay in a bedroom surrounded by air fresheners were not charged, Borboa said. Authorities cited those who were responsible for reporting the death, he said.

The quintet has a court appearance April 14 in City Court, Borboa said. They won't be required to appear, but will at least need a lawyer to enter a notice of appearance, Brynwood said. The charge merits a trial unless a plea bargain is reached or the individuals plead guilty.

Neither Bennett nor his wife; leaders of the religious group World Ministries; Contreras, a family friend; nor the others could be reached for comment Thursday.

Friends and relatives of James Killeen say World Ministries leaders urged the robust, 50-year-old railroad worker to fast for 40 days - something they say certainly would have killed him because he suffered from diabetes.

"I can only hope the court imposes the harshest sentence possible," said James Killeen's brother, Chris Killeen, who lives in Rhode Island.

Prosecutors with the Pima County Attorney's Office said this week that they would not file felony charges in connection with Killeen's death. Although Killeen's family members claim he was brainwashed, there are no city, county, state or federal laws against mind control.

An autopsy of James Killeen could not determine a cause of death, but the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office ruled out trauma such as a shooting or stabbing and also said poison did not cause the death. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Parks said that Killeen's body was in such an advanced state of decay that it hindered the autopsy.

Killeen's body remains at the county morgue awaiting a relative to claim it. Chris Killeen wants his brother to have a proper burial, but Eleanor Killeen has priority to claim her husband's body because she's considered next-of-kin.

Police estimate Killeen died on Jan. 4. His body was not discovered until Jan. 23.

Chris Killeen said he's particularly concerned about his nephew, Timothy.

"We are all very concerned about him. I'm sorry he got cited but hopefully this will be a wake-up call for him."

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