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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

County Coroner’s Toxicology Test Results Due Soon—Expected to Confirm that Katie Wilkins’ Death Was Result of Heroin Overdose

• LASD Still Lacks Answers to Key Questions about the Night She Died at Family Home in Malibu

BY ANNE SOBLE

Toxicological test results are expected to confirm next week that Malibu resident Katie Wilkins died from a heroin overdose. The official results will not be announced until after the Department of Coroner’s Chief Medical Examiner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran reviews the final report, but sources close to the case say they do not expect any surprises.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department currently has a security hold on all DOC information related to the case, but LASD Homicide Detective Tim O’Quinn, the lead investigator on the Wilkins case, said the hold will be pulled as soon as the official results have been reviewed.
Katie Wilkins, 25, was an attractive Malibu High School graduate who graduated with honors from the Art Institute of California last year and was excited about beginning a career in graphic design.
Those and any other aspirations came to an end three months ago on April 28, when Wilkins’ brother, Steve Wilkins, discovered her lifeless body on the floor of the garage at the family home in east Malibu.
Toxicology results explain the technical cause of death but LASD Detective O’Quinn said they do not address some of the most important questions related to Wilkins’ death.  He said, “We still do not have access to these answers because we do not have [access] to the person who might be able to provide them.”
Surveillance tape and fingerprint tests confirmed that Christopher Benton, 27, an acquaintance of Wilkins, was at the family home the night she died, but O’Quinn said, “We don’t know what occurred there.”
The detective indicated, even though the print discovery would be enough to call Benton in for questioning, Ronald Lewis, the noted criminal attorney who is representing Benton told the LASD, “[He] will not allow his client to make any statement.”
Emails sent to Lewis requesting comment do not receive a response.
Benton is the son of Pepperdine University president Andrew Benton. He resides with the family in the official residence on campus, and reportedly has not been seen in public since late April.
O’Quinn said, “I am not tracking [Chris Benton’s] whereabouts as I have nothing to hold him on.”
O’Quinn has said there won’t be much to build a case against Benton unless the ongoing “investigation indicates that Benton purchased the narcotics and brought them to the house and/or injected [Wilkins]. That would be grounds to explore involuntary manslaughter charges.”
The investigator said, “This will not be a rapidly evolving case from this point.” He is still awaiting DNA test results to address the issue of possible sexual assault on the partially disrobed Wilkins, but added, “Past experience tells me those results are probably at least eight weeks away.”
Steve Wilkins echoes O’Quinn’s concern about not having access to Benton. “I have taken efforts to reach Chris unsuccessfully. Chris’s choice of actions since Katie died makes clear the knowledge that he was not a friend to Katie, so it’s unfortunate he took advantage of some of her last moments on this earth. Though knowing Katie, I’m sure she gave Chris something to think about and consider.”
Other members of the Wilkins family also continue to try to urge Benton to share whatever he may know with the LASD.
Some are even attempting to reach out to the broader Pepperdine community. Wilkins’ aunt Kathleen Cashatt recently wrote a letter to member of the Pepperdine Board of Regents Edward Yang, in which she stated, “I believe that Andrew Benton has acted selfishly for his and his own family’s benefit. He has encouraged and enabled his son, Chris, to hide from telling what he knows about the circumstances surrounding the death of Katie Wilkins.”
She wrote Yang, “Since [Andrew Benton’s] silence continues, it appears that his actions are condoned by the board. As a board member, I believe you have a moral and fiduciary responsibility to the university, the Church of Christ, and the community, to ensure that the president’s actions are ethical by Christian standards, virtuous, honest, truthful, and filled with integrity.”

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