Benjamin Cayea

Ithaca, N.Y. — Benjamin Cayea was indicted Tuesday on one count of second-degree murder, according to Tompkins County Court records.

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District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson signed the grand jury indictment, dated Tuesday. It states that on Nov. 27, 2014, “the defendant, with intent to cause the death of a person, caused the death of a person.”

Benjamin Cayea
Benjamin Cayea

Cornell student Shannon Jones, 23, was found dead in her Cayuga Heights home by law enforcement on Thanksgiving Day. The beloved senior was an independent major in the engineering college, a member of a belly dance troupe, and a part of Professor Mason Peck’s Violet student satellite project.

“It’s devastating for everyone involved,” said Yashvardhan Rathore, a friend of Jones, shortly after the death. “She was very kind. She was very intelligent.”

Cayea has admitted to law enforcement that he killed Jones, according to court records.

“During a digitally recorded interview the defendant admitted that he killed Shannon S. Jones by squeezing her neck with his hands,” police state in the court documents.

“Cayea said he knew Jones was dead because she was blue and had no pulse. Cayea said he did not try to perform CPR nor did he call for help.”

You can reach the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County’s domestic violence hotline here: 607.277.5000

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.