LOGAN — A construction crew discovered skeletal remains on Wednesday that have some wondering if they might be those of an old Cache Valley outlaw. The bones were unearthed on the corner of 1000 N. 1200 East, near the Logan Cemetery.

Logan City Police Lt. Brett Randall said the workers were ripping up the sidewalk, digging a trench, just outside the cemetery when they discovered the bones. The crew immediately called police, who cordoned off the area and notified forensic anthropologists with the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Randall said it isn’t uncommon for bones to be accidentally unearthed, especially considering the number of pioneers and Native Americans who lived here centuries ago. What might be unique, though, is if the remains are those of Charles Augustus Benson, an alleged murderer who was supposedly placed in an unmarked grave after being lynched by an angry mob 151 years ago.

Seth Sparks was Sexton of the Logan Cemetery for nearly 40 years before retiring in 2011. While overseeing the grounds, he met several people who believed Benson was buried in the same spot where crews unearthed the remains.  

“The theory was that (Benson) was buried on the eastside, which was sagebrush at that time because people didn’t want him buried in the cemetery,” explained Sparks. “So people claimed he was buried just outside the graveyard that hadn’t been developed.”

Skeletal remains found near Logan Cemetery

Investigators and construction workers digging up skeletal remains on the corner of 1000 N. 1200 East, June 13, 2024.

Benson was known to be rough and rowdy, with a quick temper. On February 14, 1873, he got into an argument with some of his drinking buddies, shooting and killing David W. Crockett, son of then-Sheriff Alvin Crockett.

Three days later, law enforcement tracked Benson to a barn he was hiding in. He gave up and was taken to jail in the basement of the Cache County Courthouse. But some community members were still angry, and a mob formed and stormed the courthouse, dragging him out into the cold. They threw a rope over the courthouse sign and hanged him in the middle of the morning on February 18, 1873.

Sparks said he and others had searched through cemetery records several times trying to determine where Benson was buried. Some speculated that when the city began developing the area around the cemetery, Benson’s remains were moved to a common grave.

“We do have an area where we would put indigent people that didn’t have any money,” explained Sparks. “But nobody fessed up to whether Charlie was buried there or not. We have no record of that.”

Benson was the oldest son of one of Logan’s earliest settlers, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Apostle Ezra Taft Benson. He had reportedly fled Idaho to avoid prosecution for a shooting death in Malad.

Skeletal remains found near Logan Cemetery

Investigators sifting through dirt after skeletal remains were found by a construction crew near the Logan Cemetery, June 13, 2024.

Sparks heard a lot of speculation and urban legends about the location of Benson’s grave while he managed the cemetery. Some claimed the body was dug up and buried in Willow Park. He said one resident, the late Don James, actually claimed he saw the unmarked grave when he was a boy and herded cattle on the eastside of the cemetery.    

“(James) told me he knew exactly where that grave was,” explained Sparks. “He said it was up near the stop sign on the northeast part of the cemetery. He claimed that he and his friends would often stop to look and talk about it.”

Investigators with the police department medical examiner’s office spent most of Thursday morning sifting through the dirt, collecting the remains. They will now attempt to determine how old they are and to whom they truly belong.

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