A former elected Delaware state treasurer says the murder of a Haverhill teen in 2017 might have been prevented if officials down south acted on his concerns about the Benner family.
Instead, former Treasurer Chipman “Chip” L. Flowers Jr. told WHAV Saturday, he was forced into a political battle which forced him not to seek re-election in 2014. Flowers, who now lives in Massachusetts, said the shooting death of 18-year-old Bryce Finn in the doorway of his Rainbow Drive home might have been averted.
“I will go to my grave believing that, even though I worked with law enforcement, had the State of Delaware prosecuted them for what they did to me and my family, that young man (Finn) would still be alive today,” Flowers told WHAV. He alleged 21-year-old Joseph Maxwell “Max” Benner, who was charged Friday in connection with Finn’s murder, had a “horrible temper.” Flowers charged Benner threatened him and his future his wife during a 2014 Fourth of July Parade in Dover, Del. Flowers said the then-teen pounded on the car’s window, displayed his middle finger and shouted an expletive and racial slur.
Benner is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Haverhill District Court.
As WHAV previously reported, Benner’s mother, Erika J. Maczuba Benner of Methuen, served as the deputy treasurer for the state of Delaware before resigning amid a scandal in 2013. Flowers said the Methuen-native had used her state credit card for personal purchases and tried to falsely implicate him. While Flowers was cleared, the deputy made further allegations that her former boss had harassed her. Although, he was later exonerated again by Dover, Del., Police, he had already chosen not to seek re-election.
“Nobody did anything…People wanted me out of politics,” Flowers told WHAV. In a separate email, Flowers added, “I had no knowledge of my deputy’s actions. It was determined that my deputy was using the card for financial difficulties relating to her drug addiction and secretly paying back the money through a sympathetic person in the Treasurer’s office.”
The former treasurer said he erred in hiring Benner in the first place without a background check. He said he hired her because of recommendations stemming from her prior work for the Delaware legislature. “Looking back on it, the warning signs were all there…certainly we wouldn’t have given her a state credit card.” Flowers moved in 2015 to Boston, where he had previously graduated from Harvard with a master’s in public administration.
Early Haverhill Police Encounter with Max Benner
As WHAV previously reported, Erika Benner was arrested along with her 16-year-old son after a stop at her parents’ and sons’ West Meadow Road condominium in February 2018. She and 20-year-old Jake Kavanaugh, also of Haverhill, were each charged with possession of drugs with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drugs laws. She was also charged with reckless endangerment of a child.
Court records show the arrests came as a result of Haverhill Police surveillance, where officers said they saw the juvenile Benner pass an anti-anxiety Xanax pill outside to a woman, later identified as his mother Erika, who drove up to the home. Police followed the car out along Broadway and stopped the driver, a 37-year-old Lowell man, for running a red traffic light. When questioned about what she had received, Erika Benner pulled from inside her pants a plastic bag, with two other bags inside. She said the pill was for the driver. The man was told he would receive only a mailed citation for driving with a suspended license.
Returning to West Meadow Hill, police seized other drugs. Altogether, police gathered 180 white, rectangular pills; three jars of THC oil; one wax paper THC oil; one yellow, rectangular pill; and nine THC cartridges. It was during the return trip, police had an encounter with Max Benner. They found him “sweating and not very responsive” in a bedroom. Trinity EMS ambulance was called but the older brother refused treatment. In the aftermath of the bust, police obtained a warrant to search the home.
Then came Max Benner’s arrest two weeks later on drug charges. Although not detailed at the time, Benner appeared to admit selling Xanax to a victim who was later murdered. Finn’s name was not specifically mentioned.
Haverhill Police were already familiar with the juvenile Benner and Kavanaugh. In a police report, officers reported the pair were found during a traffic stop the previous November with more than 500 Xanax pills, marijuana and THC oils.
Max Benner became the fourth man with Delaware connections to be charged with murdering Finn on the night of June 6, 2017. Three other Delaware men—Nicholas Mandato, Thomas Warner and Kenneth Pitts—were indicted by an Essex County grand jury for Finn’s murder in October. Mandato and Warner were additionally charged with armed assault with intent to rob Finn.
Benner’s arrest helped complete the puzzle showing how the Delaware men allegedly became associated with Finn’s murder.