Doug Benton of Georgia was last seen alive on June 4, 2000. His neighbors reported him missing nearly two weeks later when they noticed his collection of exotic birds appeared to be neglected.
When police checked his home on June 17, they declared him a missing person. Two days later, he was found encased in concrete in an animal feeding trough in a remote part of a local farm. His body had been wrapped in two shower curtains.
Investigators honed in on the victim’s girlfriend, Tracy Fortson, who just happened to be a sheriff’s deputy. Despite maintaining her innocence, there is a large body of evidence against the former law enforcer.
Fortson and Benton were known to have a rocky relationship, and they were spotted arguing on the day Benton was last seen.
Fortson was known to have purchased a shower curtain on June 4. On the same day, she had also purchased a horse feeding trough and ten 80-pound bags of concrete mix.
The trough Benton was found in had been painted in camouflage color, and samples of paint from spray cans discovered at Fortson’s home were found to be a match.
The evidence against Tracy Fortson mounted up
Further clues included scar marks on trees at the site where the trough was found that matched marks on Fortson’s pickup truck, and concrete found in her truck appeared to be the same type that Benton had been encased in.
Benton’s own pickup truck had been left at a friend’s residence with a note attached. The friend had not had contact from Benton regarding leaving his vehicle with them.
The attached note was supposedly signed by Benton and claimed that he was going out of town and shouldn’t be contacted. A witness would later testify that the handwriting matched Fortsons. The note had been attached to the truck with a particular type of latex tape that Fortson had been issued with through her work.
In 2004, Fortson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. An attempt to get the conviction reversed in 2017 was doomed to failure. Since then, the team at Reasonable Doubt has taken up her case.
Fortson has continuously maintained her innocence, claiming she was framed by local law enforcement authorities.
More from Reasonable Doubt
Follow the links to read about more cases profiled on Reasonable Doubt.
Warren Horinek from Forth Worth, Texas, was jailed for murdering his wife Bonnie one night in 1995. He admits they had a troubled marriage where he was often abusive, but he claims he is innocent of this crime.
Lorie Lance Lee died of smoke inhalation in 1992 in Nashville, Tennessee; her boyfriend Claude Garrett was accused of murdering her by arson. However, many now believe it was a tragic accident.
Watch Reasonable Doubt at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.
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