The murder of 35-year-old Nicole Bennett was a month ago and authorities finally have the person responsible for the senseless crime. While it may surprise some people, it turned out to be the janitor of the church which employed her and of which she was an active member. Twenty-eight-year-old Matthew Burton is a registered sex offender who either wasn't background checked to work at the Bay Shore Community Church--or those responsible for hiring him simply didn't mind that he was a criminal of this caliber. It's both devastating and infuriating to know that he was given opportunity to prey on the weak in a setting that many people believe is one of sanctuary and faith.
For Nicole Bennett the Bay Shore Community Church became a place where she met the man who would one day murder her. How is that in any way a place of sanctuary? She was found dead at the side of the road a day after she notified her husband and family that she was going to be "working late." Was Nicole having some kind of affair with this Matthew Burton person? Were they entangled in some kind of relationship that went too far? It seems oddly convenient that she'd be "working late," the night she vanished, but anything is possible. Perhaps he took it as a time to prey on her while she was alone and in a vulnerable state.
Sources say Nicole was asphyxiated before she was discarded on the side of the road post-mortem. This evidence, along with the fact that Burton was fired from the church a day after the woman vanished, led them to mark their suspect. In the beginning of this case police acknowledged that they had several suspects and persons of interest, but it all boiled down to just one--and he is now behind bars.
Now look back at the church firing the guy. Why'd they fire him? Pastor Danny Tice wouldn't issue a reason as to why the janitor was dismissed. Did this "man of god" notify the authorities as to why he fired him so close to after the woman's body was found? Did the pastor suspect something and then choose to fire him as a way to get himself out of the mess of a crime potentially occurring in his church? It almost seems shady, but it's understandable. What pastor would want to admit that he knowingly hired a registered sex offender. Sex offenders have higher reoffense statistics than other criminal types (aside from serial killers of course!) so perhaps Pastor Danny Tice started having second thoughts about keeping an offender an employee of his establishment.
To be completely honest, investigators need to take a second look at this church and find out just how thoroughly they may or may not have checked Burton before hiring him. Considering this was a church that had specific aim for children, babies and families, it's unsettling to think they would purposely hire someone with the criminal past this man has--which also involved child endangerment.
As for the motive behind the slaying of Nicole Bennett, police are not sure.
Crime analyst and profiler Chelsea Hoffman can be found on The Huffington Post, Chelsea Hoffman: Case to Case and many other outlets. Follow @TheRealChelseaH on Twitter or click here to contact Chelsea directly.