SLO County killer on death row dies in prison

Richard Allen Benson


A San Luis Obispo County man who murdered a woman and her three children in Nipomo in 1986, and had been on death row since the following year, died on Memorial Day.

Correctional officers found Richard Allen Benson, 74, unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin Sate Prison at 5:27 a.m. Monday. Officers entered the cell, performed CPR and called for an ambulance. At 6:03 a.m., a paramedic pronounced Benson dead, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Benson did not have a cellmate, and foul play is not suspected. The Marin County coroner will determine Benson’s cause of death.

The condemned SLO County man killed Laura Camargo and her three young children. Benson sexually assaulted Camargo’s two daughters repeatedly before killing them. He also set the family’s home on fire.

Benson’s trial was moved to Santa Barbara County because of the publicity surrounding the case. A Santa Barbara County jury convicted Benson of four counts of first-degree murder, as well as other offenses. 

On April 30, 1987, a judge sentenced Benson to death.

The state admitted Benson onto death row on May 1, 1987.