Money and local renown made Loretta Bowersock seem to have it all, but love was the one thing she lacked in her life.
The affluent businesswoman made the decision to rent a room in her Tempe, Arizona, house in 1986. A Scottish businessman named Taw Benderly arrived on a motorbike prepared to respond to her call. He had great invention ideas.
He took much more than just her heart, though.
The tragic tale of the 69-year-old is the focus of a brand-new episode of “Buried in the Backyard.” The true-crime Oxygen series looks at incidents from all over the nation where victims are discovered in unexpected places. Interviews with the detectives involved in the incidents as well as family members are included.
“My mother was a very classy lady — she was successful and smart,” Bowersock’s daughter Terri Bowersock told Fox News Digital. “It was important for me to speak out and warn women of these charming predators and how these con men operate. It’s not always like you think. They don’t just walk in, and they’re suddenly the bad guy.”
When Terri was a teenager, the matriarch divorced. She dressed up, hit the tennis court, and enjoyed the single life. Later, Terri’s grandma loaned her mother and daughter $2,000 to start a consignment shop. When Terri’s Consign & Design Furnishings was first established, it immediately grew into a successful franchise.
“I had a calling at a very young age to recycle,” Terri chuckled. “I wanted to save trees. And every time you sell a gently used dining table, you save a tree. So we did that together.”
“She dated around this time, but she hadn’t really found the right person,” Terri shared. “I think it gets harder to find somebody as you get older. I remember she was talking to me about it and feeling sad. I said, ‘You remember “Three’s Company”?’ They ran an ad to get a roommate, and they were really looking for a boyfriend.’ I thought it would be a good idea. So we ran an ad.”
Benderly arrived without much delay.
“He said he was a big-time consultant or CEO in Scotland,” Terri recalled. “They dated, the whole bit. And he was pulling out all these inventions. He always had these grandiose ideas of making money. He had a certain type of chair for businesspeople, he had a lawnmower blade that would cut sideways — he had all sorts of ideas. And me being an entrepreneur — and a Virgo — I just jumped right in. Within four days, he asked to rent the room.”
“It was a huge mistake,” she admitted.
The unidentified man who claimed his wallet was stolen at the airport quickly made himself at home. He did the cooking, the cleaning, the handy work, and he related terrible anecdotes from his youth. Bowersock fell in love.
And he was committed to increasing their fortune.
“He always had a neat idea, so we were always signing pieces of paper,” said Terri. “He would say things like, ‘I want to make sure you guys get a portion of this if something happens to me.’ So we were always signing documents. And after a while, we stopped reading them. It was always like, ‘You’re a part of this,’ ‘You’re the owner,’ ‘You’re vice president.’”
Benderly persuades his longtime love to give him progressively larger sums of money over nearly 18 years in order to help finance new ideas. He found it difficult to keep a job for very long, and his ideas never really appeared to work out. Family and friends expressed suspicion.
Terri received a call from Benderly in December 2004. Her mother had vanished.
Benderly told authorities that on December 14, he and Bowersock took a brief journey to Tucson by car. He left her to go holiday shopping at a nearby mall. She was gone when he came back. Benderly believed his sweetheart had been taken hostage.
“I jumped in the car and drove down there,” Terri recalled. “I immediately went searching.”
The plot of Benderly’s tale gradually fell apart. According to Tucson Citizen, when Tucson police looked at mall video footage, they didn’t find any indication that the pair had ever been. Additionally, investigators found that Bowersock’s house was under foreclosure.
Utility bills, mortgage bills, late notices, and foreclosure threats were all addressed to Bowersock and were buried in piles of boxes in the garage. Additionally, eight credit cards were found. Her chequebook and ID were still in Bowersock’s purse, which was still at her house.
Also in Benderly’s car were a shovel and a pickaxe. They seemed to have been used recently. Benderly spent two hours in the desert, according to phone data.
Benderly was swiftly identified as the main suspect. However, there wasn’t enough information for the detectives to make an arrest.
“It was very confusing,” said Terri. “I liked him. He and I were both Virgos. He was always eager to help. And my mother really liked him… I wondered, did he ever love her? Did he ever love me? I know in the beginning, I tried to look him up online, but we just never found anything… I guess I just didn’t see the signs as well as I should have… And I think my mother stayed as long as she did because she was the old-fashioned, stand-by-your-man type of person… And I just didn’t want to go there. That the man I knew as my stepfather could commit something so horrible.”
Terri claimed that she confronted Benderly at one time.
“I said, ‘Whatever you did, you need to tell me,’” she said. “’Tell me what happened.’ He just looked at me right in the face and said, ‘I can’t tell you because I didn’t do anything.’ I remember something just came over me. I began straightening out his hair, just like my mother used to do… I got up and hugged him. I closed my eyes. It felt like we were saying goodbye.”
Benderly was released from prison around the time that he met Bowersock, the police later discovered. Bowersock was not the first woman he had deceived and defrauded; he was not Scottish. Additionally, they discovered he stole thousands of dollars using credit cards that were issued in her name. He had also been stealing the mortgage payments for several months.
Terri tried phoning Benderly on December 23. He remained silent. At the Tempe house, officers performed a welfare check. In the garage, Benderly hanged himself with an electrical cord.
Terri conducted a ceremony in his honour since she still had unresolved issues regarding her mother.
“Everything was a lie,” said Terri, fighting back tears. “I would like to believe that in time, he did love her. She was a good woman, and she stood by him. And I’d like to believe that he loved me.”
Terri was driven to track down her mother. She also had some hints thanks to psychic investigator Mary Ann Morgan. Terri was informed by Morgan that the matriarch was “150 feet from the blue” and that nearby youngsters could be heard giggling. Additionally, Morgan asserted that Benderly choked Bowersock by placing a plastic bag over her head.
Terri spent months looking in vain. But in January 2006, everything was different.
Skeletal remains were discovered by hikers in the Arizona desert, behind an abandoned motel. They discovered a small burial that had been heavily bouldered. The detritus was contained in a bag. The exterior of the motel was blue. It was also close to a playground for kids that was also painted blue.
Asphyxiation was the reason for passing away.
According to phone records, Bowersock called Wells Fargo on December 13th. They claimed that she was informed of the foreclosure and that she later approached Benderly. Violence erupted during the argument. Benderly then put a bag over her head and kept it there as she choked to death.
Terri now hopes that her mother’s experience may act as a cautionary tale for other women in like circumstances.
“It can start small and subtle,” she said. “You have to investigate. You have to do your due diligence. You have to trust your intuition, and you can’t ignore the warning signs… I kept believing my mother because I never thought she would be misled. And maybe there was shame there.”
“He wasn’t going to let her go,” she added.