‘Mom vs. Murderer’ focuses on Cathy Torrez killing, 21-year pursuit of justice – San Bernardino Sun

October 10, 2019 in San Bernandino


Imagine being a mom enduring two weeks of hell.

For 14 horrible days – from Feb. 5 to Feb. 19, 1994 – Mary Bennett watched her daughter’s once-promising life fall apart. In those two weeks, Cathy Torrez, 20, an honor student at Cal State Fullerton, may have been drugged and raped. She was beaten and abducted.

And then, it got worse.

Two weeks of hell turned into a lifetime when Torrez was found dead in the trunk of her own car. She had been stabbed 74 times.

And even though Mary Bennett knew in her heart who killed her daughter, her quest for justice lasted 21 years, and we examine it in the second season of the Southern California News Group’s true crime podcast.

“Crime Beat,” Season 2: “Mom vs. Murderer” focuses on the murder of Cathy Torrez and Mary Bennett’s relentless pursuit. This is SCNG’s second deep-dive narrative podcast. Season 2’s first episode debuted Thursday, Oct. 10.

“Crime Beat,” Season 1 was called “Stealing Nixon’s Millions.” It was the story of seven guys from Youngstown who tried to steal $30 million from President Richard Nixon in 1972. That story was the inspiration behind the 2019 film, “Finding Steve McQueen” starring Forest Whitaker, Travis Fimmel, Rachael Taylor and William Fichtner.

Both seasons of the “Crime Beat” podcast are available on Apple, Stitcher, Google Play and other streaming services. There are two podcasts called “Crime Beat” (one is produced in Canada), so make sure you’re looking for the season called “Mom vs. Murderer,” produced by the Southern California News Group.

This season is the culmination of more than a year of research. After a Freedom of Information Act request, the Placentia Police Department granted access to cassette and videotaped interviews with family, friends, witnesses and suspects from 1994.

To Mary Bennett, the case wasn’t a mystery. She was convinced she knew who killed her daughter. But she watched as the police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office couldn’t agree on how to prosecute the case.

There was no trace of the man Mary believed had killed Cathy at the crime scene. The DNA evidence pointed to a suspect who had no motive. Mary was told she might as well give up and that the case would never be solved.

The man she believed was the killer lived across the street from Mary’s home.

The case went cold.

But Mary Bennett, with the help of veteran Placentia detective Daron Wyatt, kept fighting. Wyatt made her a tearful promise that he would do everything in his power to help her solve the case.

Wyatt was thwarted again and again over the years as he tried to get the district attorney’s office to listen to him.

Over the course of 11 episodes, listeners will be taken inside the case and hear from the likes of:

• Mary Bennett, the mom who turned her life upside down in her pursuit of justice.

• Daron Wyatt, the detective who tried to get someone in the district attorney’s office to listen.

• Cathy’s sisters – Tina and Debbie – and brother Marty.

• Lew Rosenblum, the homicide prosecutor who didn’t believe there was enough evidence to move forward.

• Matt Murphy, the prosecutor who began looking at the case after Rosenblum left the DA’s office.

• Police interviews.

The case took many twists and turns. The police made several mistakes during the investigation. They tried to nail four men in connection with Cathy’s murder.

And while the investigation was going on, Mary Bennett was watching the man across the street as he had a life. He met a girl, fell in love, got married and had a child while he was under suspicion for murder.



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