Relatives of a woman who died of stab wounds that Suffolk police said she received on a Wyandanch street eight months ago are searching for answers — much like the police investigating the strange case.
It’s been nearly two weeks since Joyce Benjamin, 50, died on May 30 in a nursing home where she lay unconscious since the Oct. 14 stabbing. But her family said Friday they know little more about how or why she was stabbed up to 18 times than they did on the night they learned she was attacked and left for dead on New Avenue.
“She was a very good person,” said Betty Harper of Amityville, adding that her daughter suffered from drug addiction and had lived in the hamlet where she was born for many years. “She had a nice personality and she helped everybody. She just got with the wrong crowd.”
Her daughter, the mother of five daughters and three sons, religiously visited her youngest children at her mother’s Amityville home, Harper said, adding that Benjamin relapsed after several attempts at rehabilitation. State records show Benjamin had served short stints in jail for drug-related crimes.
“I raised all of her kids,” Harper said, herself a mother of seven who now lives with five of Benjamin’s children. “She graduated from Wyandanch High School and did a year at Suffolk Community College.”
She left home at 19 and gave birth to the eight children who now range in age from 14 to 30, Harper said. “She was living on the streets.”
Once an aspiring nurse, Benjamin dropped out of college when the lure of drugs became too strong, Harper said. She was most often seen on Straight Path and New Avenue, a pattern she had fallen into over about 20 years. Harper said she didn’t know how Benjamin earned a living.
Her old haunt in Wyandanch was where she was stabbed, Suffolk police said. Detectives said Benjamin was found on New Avenue near Mount Avenue about 3:30 a.m. that Wednesday.
The stabbing injuries led to her death, family said.
“She was considered brain dead,” Harper said, adding that relatives often visited. “In the week before she passed, she was just ‘there,’ nothing but her body — her soul was gone.”
Police have no suspects in the case, and have issued a Crime Stoppers alert to ask for the public’s help to find her killer. They ask tipsters to call 1-800-220-TIPS.
An arrest or confession would bring the family some closure, a small measure of consolation to their grief, Harper said, adding that a funeral is planned for Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Wyandanch.
“We want to bring a closing to her life,” she said. “We are looking for answers.”
— With Gary Dymski