The father and sister of a Tecumseh man whose remains were found in 2008 — seven years after he disappeared — are asking anyone with information in the unsolved homicide case to come forward after a new tip has sparked new leads and a renewed hope for justice.

The father and sister of a Tecumseh man whose remains were found in 2008 — seven years after he disappeared — are asking anyone with information in the unsolved homicide case to come forward after a new tip has sparked new leads and a renewed hope for justice.

Dustin James Bench was 22 when he was reported missing in Tecumseh. For years, the missing persons case was investigated.

But in April 2008, in rural Earlsboro, a mushroom hunter found a skull and other human remains which were identified a year later as belonging to Bench. He died of a gunshot wound, investigators said.

While the discovery gave his family some answers and they were able to give him a proper burial, it also brought much more pain to know that Dustin's killer is still out there, somewhere.

Dustin's father, James Bench, and sister, Jamie Gonzalez, met with Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth, Undersheriff Travis Palmer and Lt. Robert Stewart Friday afternoon at the courthouse after a tip earlier this week resulted in some new leads developing in the cold case.

James Bench talked about his son and the case and said the last 15 years have been difficult.

“Every day, you remember it,” he said, adding that he often turns around and thinks his son will be there. “I don't think that will ever go away.”

He hopes the renewed efforts in the case will make a difference.

“There's hope — there is hope,” he said.

James Bench, who said Dustin was a regular kid who was fun-loving and liked to fish, still can' believe someone killed his son and he wants to see the case solved.

“I won't rest until it is … I'd like to see this closed and somebody pay for it,” he said.

Dustin's sister, who was just 10 years old when she saw her brother for the last time, never dreamed that all she would have left of her brother would be memories.

She remembers her brother was “hilarious,” she said, and they often fought over the TV remote.

Losing her brother at a young age was difficult, but now that's she an adult with an 8-month-old daughter of her own, she said she misses her brother even more.

“I'm older than he ever had the chance to be. I have a family — I have a daughter and now she'll never meet her uncle,” she said. “We really want people to think about what if it was them, what if it was their son, their brother, their uncle, their cousin, their friend.”

She hopes that thought might resonate with those who may know any information about Dustin's murder that could help investigators.

She said it's hard to imagine anyone could take someone's life and be OK with that.

“Here it is 15 years later...I don't understand how it's not eating at somebody,” she said, adding hopefully hey will come forward and tell authorities what they know.

“If it helps us close this, amazing. If it helps us to get any closer, that's amazing,” she said.

  Sheriff Booth didn't release the details of the new lead that's given the case a fresh perspective, but said they have and will continue to re-examine this case.

“We understand the pain and anguish that this family is going through,” Booth said, as he talked about how clues will tell the story.

“At this point we are the voice of Dustin,” he added. “We know the family wants closure and we want to get this solved.”

Booth asks anyone with information, no matter how insignificant they think it is, to come forward because it could be that one piece that makes a major difference in the case.

Bench disappeared July 1, 2001. He left his Tecumseh home that Sunday to walk to his girlfriend’s home, but he never arrived. Tecumseh police detectives followed several leads to locate Bench, but all had negative results.

Over the years of him being listed as missing, the family had many sightings, along with several false hopes and leads, yet they continued to live their lives.

On April 7, 2008, an Earlsboro homeowner searching for mushrooms on his 320-acre property found a skull in a wooded area of Pottawatomie County. Further excavation resulted in recovery of other skeletal remains. An expert in forensic anthropology examined the skull and bones and determined they belonged to a male who was between 17 and 23 years old and had been deceased one to five years. The positive DNA-match came a year later.

The homicide investigation has remained cold, though it's been an open case that detectives have re-examined with each new tip.

One of those tips came earlier this week after Gonzalez received some information that she passed on to deputies, which has sparked a renewed hope for solving the case.

Anyone with information about this case can call the sheriff's office, 275-2526, ext. 111 or email a confidential message to info@pottcoso.com. Gonzalez also has set up an email address for tips at justicefordustinbench@gmail.com