Master Chief Petty Officer John Bench, US Navy
Investigation Discovery’s show Forbidden: Dying for Love aired an episode titled ‘An Officer, Not a Gentleman’ which featured the story of Navy Master Chief Petty Officer John Bench. Bench first killed his son and then attempted to kill his wife Agnus and their daughter on August 30, 2009 at Sasebo Naval Base in Japan. After the attacks, he then made a run for it and left the base traveling on his motorcycle. On that ride, John Bench slammed directly into the path of an oncoming truck and was killed instantly. NCIS was assigned to the case and discovered the crime scene. As a result they were able to get care for John’s wife and daughter who survived the brutal attack. Once Travis Tritten of Stars and Stripes discovered John Bench was involved in a homicide investigation in the Philippines, he did some digging because he knew this was no coincidence. The story he uncovers leads the Philippines police to another killer.
The Philippines is a key site for military and home to about 12 million citizens. Lilibeth Eniceo, 29, lived in the Philippines with her parents where she shared a room with her five children. Every day was a struggle for survival. A series of men let Lilibeth down but she continued to have hopes for a relationship. Ultimately, she was looking for love and stability for her family. Then one day in January 2007, she got a friend request from a Navy man named John Bench. He was a completely different kind of man than most. And he was the highest enlisted rank one could be in the Navy, therefore highly successful. But John was stationed thousands of miles away in Japan. Regardless, John continued to woo her and they stayed in constant contact; an internet romance grew very quickly.
Months later, John told Lilibeth his ship was traveling to the Philippines and he wanted to meet her in person. So Lilibeth traveled 100 miles to Subic Bay to meet John where his ship was at port. She was so excited to be meeting her prince charming for the first time. Lilibeth was upfront about her children from the beginning so John knew what he was getting into. John had no problems with her family and let her know he was committed to all of them. During the visit, John told Lilibeth he was divorced with two kids and free to pursue a relationship. John purposefully made her think that they had a future together. Lilibeth was happy and overwhelmed that she found a man like John Bench. It felt like they knew each other for years. Before John went back to Japan, he assured Lilibeth he would send money to support her and her family.
After years of despair and heart break, John Bench gained Lilibeth’s trust but he was keeping a secret too. John was still married with two children and they all lived on Sasebo Naval Base in Japan. John was married to Agnus, also a native of the Philippines, and they had two children: Anthony, 10, and Angelica, 15. But John was deeply unhappy in his marriage. And the success he worked so hard for would be destroyed in a divorce. John didn’t want to lose half of his military pension. Although, John was obviously not thinking clearly when he decided to have an affair because adultery is a crime in the military. John took a big risk when he started sending money to Lilibeth regularly. John felt trapped in a life he didn’t like and wanted to be free of it. He took a big gamble with his career because if caught he could lose everything. But no one could imagine the plot he was scheming.
Lilibeth and John had fallen madly in love but they had to keep it a secret. A year or so after they met, Lilibeth and John had another rendezvous but this time she introduced him to her children. John appeared to be the ideal family man because he was loving and very good with the children. They had a great visit. Right before he left, John informed Lilibeth he couldn’t give her anymore money because most of his money went towards alimony he was forced to pay after the divorce. John made it appear to Lilibeth that his ‘ex-wife’ was endangering their relationship and standing in the way of their future. He was point blank and didn’t mince words. He said he wanted to kill his wife. Because Lilibeth was blinded by her dreams of getting everything she ever wanted, she asked him what he wanted her to do. John asked her to find a hitman in the Philippines and then he returned to Japan.
Lilibeth was nervous and never thought she would be involved in an assassination plot. But she found someone to kill John’s wife. The hit would cost $1,250 with a downpayment of $700. John called Lilibeth to let her know when his wife was going to be in the Philippines visiting her family. This was the first opportunity they had to make their move. Lilibeth and the hitman lied in wait outside Agnus’ hotel and after she appeared, Lilibeth aborted the plan because her mother instincts kicked in. Agnus was exiting her hotel with her daughter. Lilibeth couldn’t imagine killing a mother in front of her daughter. Lilibeth told John she couldn’t do it and he was furious that his orders were not carried out. He eventually apologized for getting angry at her. The vulnerable Lilibeth forgave him and continued to remain under his spell.
In February 2009, John returned to the Philippines for another visit. Lilibeth still saw a relationship happening and the perfect life with John. She wanted security for her family so badly. On this visit, John asked Lilibeth to marry him and of course she said yes. She was so excited because this was a fairy tale turning into reality. But unfortunately this reality was built on lies. John was not divorced yet told Lilibeth that because he was paying alimony to his ‘ex-wife’, he would have to support two families and things would be tough. Lilibeth told him she didn’t care about the money as long as they were together and happy. But John continued to pressure her and this time he wanted her to find someone to kill his ‘ex-wife’ and the two children. Lilibeth wanted no part in this plan because to her it was unthinkable that someone would consider murdering their own children.
The cold hard truth is if John Bench was capable of committing these crimes, Lilibeth was one of his victims too. She desperately hoped John would abandon the evil plan. He told her his family didn’t care about him or love him. He made himself out to be the victim. She was torn because she would be letting go of a future with security if she said no, so she agreed to take part in the plot to kill his family. Lilibeth found another hitman and this time tried to limit her involvement by having John speak directly to him. John and Lilibeth met with the hitman and John told him how he wanted the plan to go down. He told the hitman he wanted him to carjack his family and then kill them. John assured Lilibeth afterwards they would finally be together.
The whole idea behind the plot was that this would be a failed robbery attempt and John would miraculously be the lone survivor. But again Lilibeth was having a hard time coping with the reality of the situation. She knew that a family was going to be murdered. The hitman waited at a pre-determined location and pulled the taxi over at gunpoint. He jumped in, demanded they drive to a remote location, and then told them all to get out of the car. He killed the taxi-cab driver first. Then he hesitated and called Lilibeth to tell her he was going to kill them. She told him she didn’t want to know anything. While the hitman was distracted, Agnus lunged at him and fought back in an attempt to get the gun. John hesitated to help her because he had been waiting so long for this plan to unfold so he could be free. John finally acted because otherwise he risked his wife finding out about his murderous plan.
The Bench family was taken to the local police department to give a statement. John Bench was quietly concerned about the hitman being on the run. He knew if he was caught and the plan was made public, it would ruin him. Ruby Ramores was also looking for answers as her brother was the taxi-cab driver who was murdered. She wanted justice for her brother; he was a father of three children and was just trying to make a living. John appeared to want to brush the whole incident under the rug. He denied hesitating to assist Agnus and boldly stated that he was simply waiting for the right opportunity. He then told the police he was tired and leaving so his family could go back to Japan. Ruby read the police reports and questioned why John was hesitant to help his family especially since he had the training to do so. Ruby wasn’t going to let this case go cold.
John kept a very low profile the weeks following the incident and stopped sending Lilibeth any money. Then after months of silence, John called Lilibeth out of the blue. He told her he missed her, wanted to be with her, and apologized for his actions. She eventually relented and forgave him. John told her they would be together soon. But once again, John was lying. After this call to Lilibeth, John unraveled and took matters into his own hands. First he savagely beat and murdered his son. Then he bludgened his wife and daughter with a baseball bat and left them for dead. Afterwards, he fled the scene on his motorcycle. Everything in John’s life was on the line and there was no coming back from this. So John gunned his engine and slammed directly into the path of an oncoming truck. He was killed instantly.
When Japanese authorities realized John was in the Navy, Naval Criminal Investigation Services (NCIS) took over. As a result, they went to John’s home and discovered the crime scene. They were able to save both Agnus and her daughter’s life. Once the news was reported, Travis Tritten of Stars and Stripes began looking into the case. He learned that John Bench was also involved in a homicide case in the Philippines. He suspected something wasn’t right and John’s involvement in the homicide in the Philippines was not coincidental. Travis found out that John Bench was having an affair so he contacted Lilibeth. She opened up to him about the details of the relationship and the various plots to kill John’s family. Lilibeth also gave him the name of the hitman who killed Ruby’s brother. The hitman was charged and imprisoned for the homicide. Ruby opted not to press charges against Lilibeth because she empathized with her and her children. Everyone involved was a victim of John Bench. He used a victimhood narrative to justify his evil intentions and manipulated others to do his dirty work for him. He is the definition of a sneaky sociopath.
I made a mistake. If I have to pay for it, I will pay for it…I was in love with a monster. -Lilibeth Eniceo
ID Go: A Filipino woman falls for a married US Navy Officer who will do anything to keep his mistress and his money. -An Officer, Not a Gentleman, Forbidden: Dying for Love
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An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S1,E4)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)