BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – The man wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of a Buffalo woman Wednesday morning has a violent past, including being charged in a brutal assault of the victim a week ago.
Buffalo police identified Adam Bennefield, 45, as a person of interest for Wednesday’s fatal shooting of his estranged wife, Keaira Hudson.
Police found Hudson shot to death in her car in Buffalo, near Shawnee and Richlawn avenues.
A day before her death, Bennefield was arraigned on numerous charges for an alleged attack of Hudson at their Cheektowaga home. Hudson posted a home surveillance video of the Sept. 28 assault on her Facebook page.
In addition, Bennefield ran into trouble in 2000, when he kidnapped two women, and then escaped from jail while awaiting trial.
There is a $7,500 reward being offered to anyone who provides law enforcement with information that leads to an arrest. Police warned that Bennefield is to be considered armed and dangerous.
The crimes that Bennefield committed more than two decades ago resulted in a prison term.
On March 2, 2000, Bennefield, at age 22, ordered his ex-girlfriend and a second woman out of their car on the Kensington Expressway, court records state. He was armed with a shotgun.
Bennefield kidnapped them by forcing them into his vehicle, and then led police on a high-speed chase. The second woman jumped out of the car to escape.
His ex-girlfriend told Bennefield that she was pregnant with his child “for fear that he would otherwise kill her,” court records state. She was not injured in the incident.
While awaiting trial on Sept. 16, 2000, Bennefield escaped from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden by climbing over a 15-foot wall and through razor wire. He eventually surrendered to law enforcement after a 19-hour manhunt.
Later that same month, Bennefield pleaded guilty to two felony counts of second-degree attempted kidnapping and to first-degree escape.
He was sentenced in November 2000 to concurrent sentences of 15 years in prison on each of the kidnapping counts, and a term of two to six years on the escape charge, for a total sentence of 17 to 21 years.
While in prison, Bennefield at least twice unsuccessfully petitioned the court to get his sentence vacated. One of the arguments he made was that his guilty pleas were involuntarily because “the trial court failed to adequately insure that petitioner was knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waiving a psychiatric defense by pleading guilty.”
Bennefield was found competent on two occasions after a psychiatric exam, including two days before he pleaded guilty, “and nothing in the record showed that he was not mentally fit to proceed,” court records state.
Bennefield was released to parole supervision in June 2015.
A week before Hudson’s fatal shooting in Buffalo, she accused Bennefield of assaulting her in their Cheektowaga home.
Hudson posted a home surveillance video of the brutal attack on her Facebook page, with the comment, “this is what this man dose to me but i’m always treated like i’m the abuser !”
The video shows a man tackling Hudson and violently punching her at least 25 times in the face and body. The man stood up while Hudson was rolling on the floor in pain, and after a few minutes, he kicked her several times in the stomach area.
On Thursday during a press conference, Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould said his officers responded to a home on Barbara Place on Sept. 28, for a report of a female being punched by her husband.
Gould said the suspect locked himself in a bathroom. Officers eventually gained entry, spoke with the suspect, and determined he needed to be arrested for harassment. Gould said those responding officers did not have knowledge of the surveillance video at that time.
Police also determined that the suspect needed to be transported to ECMC for medical and psychological evaluations. Officers filed warrants for his arrest.
Gould said that on Thursday, the domestic violence advocate made contact with Hudson, who said she was injured and had a video of the attack. The advocate passed on that information to a detective, Gould said, who arranged to have the video sent to him for investigation.
“On Friday, the detective still did not have the video, so he followed up with the victim, and made an appointment to meet with her on Monday to get a copy of the video,” Gould said.
But on Sunday night, officers responded to a call from Hudson that she thought someone was inside her home. Hudson then showed officers the video of the attack, Gould said.
“The video showed a much more violent incident than what was originally reported to the original responding officer,” Gould said.
On Monday morning, after meeting with Hudson, police upgraded Bennefield’s charges. He was arraigned the next day on one count of assault in the third degree, two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree, one count of menacing in the second degree, one count of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, which are all misdemeanors. He was also arraigned on one count of harassment in the second degree, which is a violation. (Gould said Hudson’s injuries from the attack were not serious enough to charge the suspect with felonies.)
“The detectives notified the court of the threat that the suspect presented to the victim,” Gould said. “The domestic violence advocate made contact with the assistant district attorney handling the case, and made them aware of the threat that this suspect presented. he domestic violence advocate was advised that the charges were not qualified charges and that the suspect could not be held.”
Instead, an order of protection was issued, and Bennefield was released on his own recognizance.
Gould said the domestic violence advocate notified Hudson of his release and was working on a safety plan for her.
The next morning, Hudson, who had been staying with her parents in Buffalo, was fatally shot in her vehicle.
A source close to Hudson’s family told News 4 that she was deeply concerned for her safety and was wearing a bulletproof vest.
“We have seen the tragic result of domestic violence this week,” Gould said. “Our thoughts are with the family and especially the children of this victim.”
Gould made a plea to lawmakers to consider changes to criminal justice reform, particularly bail reform, three years ago that ended cash bail for most defendants charged with misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies.
“New York State is the last state that doesn’t take into account the dangerousness of a defendant to the community when considering bail. That is something that we’ve asked for; that is something that we will continue to ask for, and we hope that our elected officials consider those changes.”
Anyone with information on Wednesday’s fatal shooting can call or text the confidential tip line at 716-847-2255.
Dan Telvock is an award-winning investigative producer and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.