Obit tells of grief for family that died near Neudorf, court records show history of turmoil

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post. A large metal sign adorned with the silhouettes of pine trees and a buffalo on either side shows the family name "BENDER'S" sprawled across the top. The sign sat at the entrance to a farmyard RCMP blocked off while investigating near the town of Neudorf after four people were found dead in a rural residence.

While grief marks an obituary for the family, court records show a history of turmoil involving Andrew Bender, one of the four found dead.

Jennifer Ackerman, Brandon Harder, Regina Leader-Post

As news of a tragedy rippled throughout Saskatchewan, all eyes turned toward a farmyard northeast of the Village of Neudorf.

One unmarked RCMP vehicle sitting in the driveway was the only visual cue that something was amiss on the crisp and windy morning of March 25.

Near the entrance to the yard sat a large metal sign adorned with the silhouettes of pine trees and a buffalo on either side. The family name “BENDER’S” sprawled across the top.

The same name now rests at the top of an obituary for four members of the same family who “passed away unexpectedly” on March 23.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Gary Clifford Bender born Dec. 9, 1957, his wife Joanne Lorene Bender born Nov. 22, 1965, and their two sons, Andrew Gary Bender born Dec. 11, 1989, and Cory James Bender born Aug. 17, 1993,” the obituary reads.

“Their absence will be deeply felt by their remaining family and friends.”

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to show their support are being encouraged to make a donation to the Saskatchewan Mental Health Association or an addictions treatment centre of their choice, the obituary states.

The Leader-Post made efforts to reach out to friends and relatives of the Bender family, but was unable to make contact Wednesday.

While the RCMP has not named the four found dead near Neudorf on March 24, it confirmed the deceased were members of the same family and provided ages. The RCMP later termed the incident a “murder-suicide,” and noted the 34-year-old male died of self-inflicted injuries while the others died as a result of homicide.

Andrew was 34, according to the date of birth listed in the obituary. The date of birth also matches that listed on a number of court documents obtained by the Leader-Post, which offer a small window into the situation faced by the Bender family before the incident in late March.

Before his death, Andrew faced numerous charges, some of which resulted from acts that were alleged to have been committed against now-deceased members of the family. While he was convicted of some of these charges, he was found not guilty of others, and others yet were stayed.

His most recent convictions came Feb. 16 of this year when he was found guilty of a charge that on Oct. 4, 2023 he resisted arrest by refusing to be handcuffed and pulling away from two RCMP officers near Neudorf. He was also found guilty that on the same day he escaped from the lawful custody of police at the Melville RCMP detachment.

He was in jail when the matter was finally concluded, and for those convictions he was given time-served sentences of two months for resisting and six months for escaping, according to court documents.

Prior to that, documents show that in February of 2023 he was sentenced for a raft of convictions. What follows is an account of the court’s findings of guilt:

On Sept. 25, 2022, Andrew assaulted Gary.

On Oct. 30, 2022, he failed to comply with a condition of his release order when he wasn’t home during a curfew check.

On Nov. 22, 2022 he committed a number of offences by failing to comply with release orders, including having contact with Gary, being at the rural property near Neudorf (the one later held by police after the bodies were found) and not being at home during his curfew. On that date he also committed mischief by damaging a chair belonging to Gary and Joanne.

The very next day, on Nov. 23, 2022, he again failed to comply with a release order in having contact with Gary. On that date, he also committed mischief by damaging the bedroom door and garage door of Gary and Joanne. Additional charges related to this date were stayed.

And finally, on Dec. 3, 2022, he again failed to comply with his release order by having contact with Gary and being at the aforementioned rural property. On that date, he also obstructed police by running away to evade arrest.

For all these offences, he was sentenced to serve nine days in jail, after receiving the usual time-and-a-half credit for the 114 days he’d already spent on remand.

However, court documents show he had additional legal history, some of which involved his family, that did not result in conviction.

Stayed charges include: carrying weapons including a baseball bat, a machete and an “imitation” handgun in September 2022, as well as another count of failing to comply with release conditions for being at the rural property in November 2022.

He was also found not guilty of six charges relating to incidents all alleged to have occurred Sept. 24, 2023, including assaults on Gary, Joanne and another individual (whose name was not listed in the aforementioned obituary), violently stealing a set of truck keys, damaging the truck, and failing to comply with a release order that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The court document indicating he was found not guilty of those charges is dated Feb 16, 2024. That is the same day he was convicted for the aforementioned resisting and escaping charges. The date of these outcomes was a little over five weeks before the bodies of the four family members were found by police.

— with files from Kayle Neis