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'The Black Swan murder?' '48 Hours' dives into case of Florida woman accused of killing estranged husband

In 2020, Ashley Benefield turned herself in at the Manatee County Jail and was charged with 2nd-degree murder for shooting and killing her husband.
Credit: Manatee County Sheriff's Office

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida woman accused of shooting and killing her estranged husband takes center stage in the latest "48 Hours" investigation.

"48 Hours'" Jim Axelrod investigates the death of Doug Benefield and his "May-December relationship" with his estranged wife Ashely Benefield, a former ballerina and bikini model.

In "The Black Swan Murder?," "48 Hours" explores the relationship between Doug, who was a 54-year-old widower, and Ashley, who was 24-years-old. They knew each other just 13 days before they got married.

Just four years later their relationship ended with one of them dead and the other charged with second-degree murder. 

In the episode, Doug Benefield's family attorney says Ashley is similar to the "devious character in 'Black Swan.'" 

“To Doug … Ashley’s this innocent, pure White Swan,” Stephanie Murphy says. “But underneath those white feathers… she’s an evil woman. She’s the Black Swan.”

"48 Hours'" "The Black Swan Murder?" premieres at 10 p.m. ET Sept. 8 on 10 Tampa Bay and will stream on Paramount+.

On Sept. 27, 2020, Ashley Benefield shot and killed her husband Doug Benefield in her mother's home in the Central Park area in Manatee County, the sheriff's office said at the time. 

According to deputies, she told them she shot him during an argument and he had attacked her. There weren't any signs she had been physically abused, detectives said. 

They were the only two people in the house at the time of the shooting. 

Investigators said the two had been separated and were in the middle of a custody battle over their daughter. 

In November 2020, Ashley turned herself in at the Manatee County Jail and was charged with second-degree murder. 

48 Hours says Ashley Benefield "maintains her innocence and is awaiting trial." 

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