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Man Suffocates Girlfriend After Trying to Kill Her in a Car Crash

Illustration for article titled Man Suffocates Girlfriend After Trying to Kill Her in a Car Crash

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty and was sentenced for smothering his girlfriend to death after he tried and failed to kill her by deliberately crashing into a guardrail.

Prosecutors said Benjamin Klinger, 21, suffocated Samantha "Sammi" Heller, 17, after he attempted to kill her by crashing his car going more than 100 mph. Via Lancaster Online:

Assistant District Attorney Christine Wilson told the court that on the morning of Dec. 4, 2012, Klinger, of Elizabethtown, was speeding westbound on Route 283, west of Strickler Road, when he crashed a 1986 Toyota Celica into the end of a guardrail at an estimated speed of 115 mph. Investigators found no evidence of braking.


A motorist, who came upon the crash and called 911, told investigators he saw Klinger sitting on a face-down Heller beside the car. A recording of the 911 call picked up a woman's moans, according to preliminary hearing testimony.


According to the arrest affidavit, Klinger was sitting on Heller's head when police arrived on the scene.

Prosecutors described a pattern of abuse over a two year period that Heller endured, despite concerns from her family. Heller's mother Sandy McFalls, addressed the court at the sentencing:

McFalls, in her statement, described Heller as a happy, charismatic and loving daughter who was excited about veterinary assistant studies at Lancaster Career and Technology Center. All that changed when she met Klinger, McFalls said.

McFalls said her daughter withdrew from family and friends, started failing classes and became disrespectful. "We began to do everything we could to keep Sammi away from Ben," she said.

But Heller continued seeing Klinger even after he became enraged and drove over her foot.


If there is anything at all to find in this story that remotely resembles something positive, it could be in the words of Judge Margaret Miller. Recently, we've had a lot of disappointing, depressing and downright enraging stories about judges who seem hellbent on victim blaming. But Judge Miller knows exactly where to lay all the blame for this horrific crime.

"There is no doubt in my mind you lived your life with a callousness, arrogance and a cowardliness, frankly," Miller said during the sentencing, "because being a bully is a coward....You treated (Heller) like an object, and when that object became an inconvenience, the object was removed from your path."


Klinger was sentenced to 23 to 46 years third-degree murder and homicide by vehicle. He was also sentenced for sending sexually explict photos of a sex act with a minor as well as additional drug charges.

Image via Lancaster Online.

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I will post this on every article about domestic violence from here until the end of time. If you are experiencing abuse, it is not your fault. If someone you care about is being abused, you cannot fix it for them, but you can be a support and decrease the isolation they are experiencing. From

What Can I Do?

  • Don't be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you're concerned for their safety and want to help.
  • Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions.
  • Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not "normal" and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
  • Focus on your friend or family member, not the abusive partner. Even if your loved one stays with their partner, it's important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it.
  • Connect your friend to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance. Remember, can help.
  • Help them develop a safety plan.
  • If they break up with the abusive partner, continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.
  • Even when you feel like there's nothing you can do, don't forget that by being supportive and caring — you're already doing a lot.
  • Don't contact their abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It'll only worsen the situation for your friend.