Deaths of 2 Ponte Vedra residents ruled murder-suicide

SJSO says woman killed by stalker ex-boyfriend

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According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office (SJSO), the Medical Examiner's Office has concluded that the deaths of the two individuals found in their home in Ponte Vedra on Saturday have been ruled a murder-suicide.

Per an email from SJSO spokesman Chuck Mulligan on Monday, the two deceased individuals have been identified as Lynn Michele Bender, 53, of Ponte Vedra, and Simon Patrick Hanley, 60, of Ponte Vedra. According to Mulligan, the cause of death of Bender was ruled a homicide, and the manner of death was by gunshot wound. SJSO said Hanley died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Bender and Hanley were found dead on Saturday in their house off Southern Oak Drive in Nocatee’s Twenty Mile neighborhood. A Facebook post from SJSO stated that two individuals came to the residence around noon on Saturday to check on the residents because they had been unable to contact them. When they arrived at the home, they discovered two people deceased inside.

Mulligan told the Recorder in a subsequent interview that Bender had contacted SJSO in November 2018 about her ex-boyfriend’s stalking behavior. Hanley was issued a trespass warning at that time. A month later, Bender sought a restraining order, at which point SJSO learned he had continued the behavior, allegedly buying her unwanted gifts including a golf cart. On Dec. 7, he was arrested and issued a GPS ankle monitor. 

On March 5, a court hearing addressed the case, but the charges were dropped, and Hanley’s GPS ankle monitor was removed, Mulligan said.  

Bender was a real estate agent who recently moved to the area from Ohio. The Cavanaugh Team Real Estate at RE/MAX Unlimited in Nocatee where she worked released a statement on Monday via Facebook.  

“It is with great sadness that we must share the tragic loss of our dear friend and listing agent, Lynn Bender,” the post read. “Our hearts are broken, and our prayers are surrounding her family in this most difficult time. Lynn joined our Cavanaugh Team 14 months ago as an experienced RE/MAX agent from Ohio. We have gleaned on her experience, but mostly her laughter, joy and fun spirit. We became very close as we talked and/or met almost every single day for the past year. Over the next few days, we will be giving her family our full support to ensure her honor and dignity are held high while they are accepting the loss of their mother, sister, daughter and aunt. Her death was not related to real estate interactions, but with a past relationship that had turned into a horrific scenario.”

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