The last time Sharon Lee heard from her son, Benton, he said he was taking his wife’s car into the shop.
That was Saturday morning. By that afternoon, the 26-year-old would be dead, fatally shot in an industrial area near Florida’s Turnpike and Southern Boulevard.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews found Benton Lee at about 4 p.m. in the 7600 block of Hooper Road in suburban West Palm Beach. They took him to a hospital, where he died a short time later.
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A friend called Sharon Lee to let her know that her son, the fourth of her five children, had been killed. She then called her daughter-in-law, Yory Lee.
Benton Lee’s wife of nearly seven years was in the car with their 6-year-old son when she got the call.
The boy comforted her: “It’s going to be OK,” he told her. “We’re going to be OK.”
Neither Yory nor Sharon Lee know many details from that afternoon. Sharon Lee said she has “no idea” why anyone would have wanted her son dead. Yory Lee suspects her husband was too trusting.
Sheriff’s authorities did not provide details about an alleged motive or potential suspect in the killing, the county’s 72nd reported homicide since January, according to a Palm Beach Post database.
Benton Lee spent weekdays working in Daytona Beach as a plumber and handyman, his mother said.
Records indicate Lee worked for Comcast until June 2017 when he admitted to stealing from a customer in whose Jupiter home he was working. He pleaded guilty to theft and dealing in stolen property and was scheduled to be on probation until February 2019, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.
Lee had been driving down to the West Palm Beach area on weekends to be with his mother, his wife and his youngest child, they said. His oldest son, 8, lives in Jamaica, where Lee spent most of his life, his mother said. Records indicate Lee was born in Spanish Town, about 15 miles west of Kingston.
Lee moved to Palm Beach County when he was about 18, according to his mother. He met Yory Lee not long afterward at the apartment complex where they lived.
She quickly learned of his passion for music.
“He’s all about music,” his mother said.
Benton Lee enjoyed a little something from every genre, according to his mother. He inherited that love of music from his father, she said, and passed it on to his boys.
His wife recalled a picture of Lee’s youngest son holding a microphone, “acting like his dad,” when the boy was about 1.
He constantly checked in on his kids, Yory Lee said, making sure they were all right both physically and mentally.
“He loved his children very much,” she said. “It’s going to be so hard for me when both of (his boys) ask for their father.”
Anyone with information about Lee’s death is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 800-458-TIPS (8477).
Staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this report.