When Missouri snake breeder Ben Renick was found dead with a crushed skull in June 2017, his brother first thought he had been killed by a python. It was only after a police investigation uncovered that he had been killed by a gunshot wound that it became clear he had been murdered by a human. Why was he murdered?
Millions of dollars at stake
Ben Renick had a $1 million life insurance policy that listed his wife Lynlee Renick as the sole beneficiary. Before Ben died he was also in the process of selling his snake breeding business Renick’s Reptiles to NHL goalie Robin Lehner for $1.2 million. The amount of money at stake here could explain a possible motive to murder, especially since Lynlee’s business, a spa called Ascensia, was struggling financially.
However, Lynlee says she waived the right to her husband’s life insurance policy. If she was involved in Ben’s murder, was there another reason why she might want him dead? Prosecutors in her murder trial argued that she was also concerned that she would not get custody of their kids if they were to divorce.
Lynlee was cheating on Ben
Lynlee took the stand during her 2021 murder trial and testified that she was cheating her husband Ben, which she now regrets. She was considering divorce at the time because she says Ben was starting to become aggressively angry, but she didn’t have anyone in her circle she felt she could talk to about divorce.
This is why she says she reconnected with an old boyfriend, Michael Humphrey: so she could have someone to vent to. Lynlee’s relationship with Michael ended in 2010 because she felt their relationship was codependent and she had gotten addicted to the drugs he was selling.
She testified, however, that she never discussed killing Ben with Michael.
Did Lynlee kill Ben, or did Michael kill Ben?
Both Lynlee and Michael have accused each other of killing Ben on June 8, 2017. On that day Lynlee says she left her spa and brought Michael with her to confront Ben about a divorce.
Lynlee says she took the trash out while Ben and Michael were talking. When she returned she found them washing their hands. Then, she says Michael pulled out a gun and shot Ben.
“I screamed and ran outside,” she says. “Then I heard more shots go off. Everything went numb and I remember just staring at the trees and (Humphrey) and running toward me and pushing me toward the car.” Ben was shot eight times.
Lynlee then drove back to her spa where her employee Ashely Shaw helped her take a shower. After her shower, she drove back to the breeding facility and called Ben’s brother Sam.
This may not have been the first murder attempt
Lynlee’s employee Ashley Shaw has testified that before Ben’s shooting death, Lynlee had tried to kill him with a drugged milkshake. The drink was spiked with Percocets that only made Ben sick, but didn’t kill him. Ashley said Lynlee accused her husband of being sexually abusive towards her.
Ashley was granted immunity for murder charges for testifying against her boss. She claimed that she was in on the plot to kill Ben, and had been given a task to text Ben from Lynlee’s phone, which she had left at the spa when she drove over to Ben’s work with Michael the day Ben died. Ashley feels regret over participating in Ben’s murder plot. “It’s the biggest mistake I have ever made,” she said on the stand.
How long will Lynlee be in prison
Lynlee claims that she did not pull the trigger and that she did not want her husband Ben to die. A jury, however, found Lynlee guilty of second-degree murder. She got a lesser charge than first-degree murder, and a pretty light sentence. She was sentenced to 13 years and will be out of prison in her 40s.