It was a dark couple days for our picturesque community.
Two young women were murdered within a few days of each other, and though they don’t appear to be connected in an way, shape or form, it was still sobering.
These things just don’t happen around here, after all. It was a jolt to our collective psyche.
This started last Friday, June 15. State police were contacted at 8 a.m. by a man reporting that his wife Nicole Bennett of Millsboro was missing. About an hour later another call was placed to 911 reporting that a body was discovered off a dirt road in Worcester County, less than six miles away from where Bennett worked in Gumboro.
Police are still trying to piece together what happened to Bennett, and the only information they are sharing right now is that the death was caused by homicide. There is now a reward being offered for any information that leads to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for this crime.
On Monday, June 18, a cleaning woman at the Atlantic Oceanside Motel in Dewey Beach came across the body of Danielle Mehlman, of Bensalem, Pa. Police were later able to confirm that the cause of death was multiple stab wounds, and they shortly put out a notice that a 26-year-old Wilmington man Pwan Kumar, was wanted in connection with the murder.
Police were circulating photos from a surveillance camera of Kumar, and word was circulating quickly on the Internet, radio and television. Then, on Tuesday, June 19, police announced that Kumar’s body was found in a New Jersey motel. Authorities in New Jersey believe at this time that Kumar committed suicide by drug overdose.
These two murders have shaken the very fabric of this community. This was the first murder ever reported in Dewey Beach, and Gumboro has never been considered a hotbed of criminal activity. Again, we go back to the thought in our opening paragraph — these things just don’t happen around here.
Only they do. They happen everywhere, and all it takes is one awful decision by a person to turn a quiet, friendly location into a place where a murder took place. These two cases don’t mean that Gumboro and Dewey are dangerous places — it means that anything can happen anywhere.
We mourn the losses of Bennett and Mehlman, and we despise the senseless manners in which they lost their lives. We mourn for their family members and friends, and we hope that they are able to gain enough support from others that they can resume their lives down the road, even though they will never lose that burning pain of loss.
These isolated cases do not mean that we live in a dangerous environment that features violent predators around every dark corner. It means that we have been faced with the worst of what human beings are capable of, and we will continue on.