Bennie Harden Wint was declared dead nearly 20 years ago when he disappeared while swimming off Daytona Beach, FL on September 25, 1989. Wint and his then-fiancee, Patricia Lynn Hollingsworth, had left their home in South Carolina after Hurricane Hugo, and talked of their wedding plans while staying in Daytona, according to the original police report. He also left behind a grieving mother and 4-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.
Under questioning, the man admitted he faked his own death in 1989, and that he was in fact Bennie Wint. Wint explained to Wyatt how easily he made his getaway. "He told me he swam to the shore in knee deep water, walked off and never looked back."
Wyatt was skeptical at first, and did a little research on the Internet. What he found was a post on PeopleSite.com from a woman named Christi McKnight who said she was Wint's daughter. In the posting, dated February 5, 2007, McKnight said she was four years old at the time of her father's disappearance and that she was searching for her father in hopes of helping her dying grandmother.
"Doctors say she should have been dead a year ago, but they say she's holding on to one thing, and we believe that she is holding on to my father," McKnight wrote. "Benny is believed to have been seen in Florida back in '89 - '90 and some have said they've seen him in Hartsville, South Carolina, where his family is from."
Wint's story was confirmed when he was positively identified through fingerprints taken when he was arrested on the current traffic violations. His reason for perpetrating his "disappearing act"? Wint was "paranoid" because he believed he was wanted on charges stemming from his involvement in a large-scale drug trafficking ring in South Carolina and he also feared for his life. Authorities confirmed there are no outstanding warrants for Wint.
News reports do not say whether or not Wint has made contact with his dying mother or daughter who have been going through a living hell these past 20 years. Having a loved one myself missing for over 25 years, I understand their agony all too well. What I can't imagine doing is reconciling in my mind both being grateful he is alive and the pain of realizing he knowingly, callously, and selfishly put us through all we have suffered.Tweet