A 24-year-old pre-kindergarten teacher's lifeless body was tied to a cinder block and dropped into a Chester County, Pennsylvania, pond over the Memorial Day holiday, county prosecutors said Thursday.
Ryan Stevyn Benjamin's body was discovered in the pond, part of Pigeon Creek, at 488 Porters Mill Road in Pottstown on May 30. District Attorney Tom Hogan released her identity Thursday afternoon after she was named by loved ones who recognized her physical features, a tattoo and jewelry, he said. DNA and dental records also matched, the county coroner said.
A native of Rochester, New York, Benjamin taught pre-school at Warwick Childcare in Pottstown and was a certified teacher. She is a graduate of Juniata College in central Pennsylvania.
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Family friend Cheryl Cutillo said Benjamin was an animal lover who came to the area after getting a job at the Malvern School last summer. The young woman was living with Cutillo until she found her own place.
"She had a boyfriend, but they had broken up, but they were in the same circle of friends. I mean it was a bunch of friends," Cutillo said.
A father and son-in-law spotted Benjamin's body in the pond -- popular for swimming and fishing -- just after 11 a.m. on Memorial Day.
It appears Benjamin was dead before being dumped in the water. Investigators did not find any signs of blunt force trauma, gunshots or strangulation. There was no water in her lungs.
Hogan has asked anyone who had contact with her over the Memorial Day weekend to reach out to police.
"The person who dumped Ryan's body in the water knows what they did and knows that the police are closing in," Hogan said in a statement. "Every moment that this person stays on the run makes it look worse. This individual should come in to authorities now."