PORTLAND, Maine — A Missouri man who threatened to kill his estranged wife and “mount her head on the wall” was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison during a hearing Monday in U.S. District Court.
Benjamin Lee, 52, of Springfield, Mo., was found guilty of interstate stalking after a jury trial in September of last year.
According to testimony presented during Lee’s five-day trial, Lee traveled across state lines from Missouri to Maine with the intention of killing, injuring, harassing and surveilling his then-estranged wife and her new boyfriend, placing them both in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.
The evidence showed that in April and May of 2012, Lee sent several threatening emails and from July to September of that year, made verbal threats to kill the couple in Maine while talking with his friends and family.
In September of 2012, the couple received a call from Lee’s sister, who had not heard from him and believed he may be traveling to Maine to cause the couple harm.
Lee originally was charged in state court with domestic violence stalking and having a loaded firearm in a vehicle after his wife reported that he was driving by the house where she was staying in southern Maine. She told a dispatcher that she thought her husband had a gun, the affidavit said. The state charge was dismissed.
A short time later, Lee was stopped by Maine State Police and a York County sheriff’s deputy, according to court documents. Lee allowed them to search his trunk and they found “five firearms (and over 200 rounds of assorted ammunition matching the caliber of the firearms), a machete, a bayonet, a folding knife, handcuffs, duct tape, packing tape, rubber gloves, camouflage face paint, a map of Maine with [a Maine town] circled in pen, a roll of plastic trash bags and a roll of plastic sheeting.”
During a subsequent search of Lee’s car, police found a digital camera with a photo of the residence where his wife was staying saved on it, an empty 10-gallon cooler and a sleeping bag, court documents said.
The investigation showed that in May Lee’s estranged wife told him to leave her alone and that she was not coming back to him. While not all of Lee’s emails to her included threats, some did, an affidavit said. The emails quoted in the court document included obscenities, typographical errors and incorrect use of punctuation.