Details of Disappearance Benita was last seen in Gary, Indiana on October 24, 1989. Her mother saw her at Indiana University's Northwest campus that day; both of them attended classes there. She has never been heard from again.
At the time of her disappearance, Benita was estranged from her ex-husband, John Lee "Johnny" Spears Jr. She had married him after graduating Horace Mann High School, and they had two sons.
There was a history of domestic violence in the marriage. In 1988, Johnny was charged with two felonies after he beat Benita, abducted her at gunpoint and took her out of state. He pleaded guilty to criminal confinement and was sentenced to two years in prison. Benita filed for divorce that same year.
Johnny was released from Lake County Jail the night before Benita disappeared. Shortly after her disappearance, he was seen driving her 1981 Oldsmobile Omega with license plates numbered 45P2981. It had been parked at Benita's home when she was reported missing, but disappeared a short time later.
The vehicle wasn't located until November 23, when it turned up at a parking lot at South Shore Line in East Chicago, Illinois.
Johnny refused to take a polygraph in Benita's case. In October 1990, Johnny was charged with attempted murder in an unrelated incident and jailed again. He remains the prime suspect in his ex-wife's case, but has never been charged in connection with it.
Benita lived in the 1900 block of east 19th Avenue at the time of her disappearance. She was attending college full time and had a temporary part-time clerical job with the utilities dispatch center at Inland Steel Co. in East Chicago.
According to her family, Benita's hobbies include cooking, sewing and piano playing. Foul play is suspected in her case, which remains unsolved.
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 23, 2010; picture added.