Benitez Tilley pleads guilty to killing Haley Smith and Dustin Carr at Papa John's

ELKHART, Ind. -- The man who shot and killed Haley Smith and Dustin Carr at the Papa John's in February has pleaded guilty.

Jose Benitez Tilley Jr pleaded guilty to two counts of murder on Thursday.

The court accepted his plea during a hearing on Thursday.

Benitez Tilley will be sentenced on July 14.


Court records show at 10:11 a.m. Elkhart Police were called to the Papa Johns on Cassopolis Street when an employee showed up that morning and located the bodies of Haley Smith and Dustin Carr.

They had both closed the store the night before, reports said.

A witness told investigators Benitez Tilley was a former employee of Papa John’s and they have issues with him in the past. He said the suspect had been at the restaurant on February 12 at approximately 10 p.m. asking for a job.

Another witness worked late on February 12 with Smith and Carr. The employee said Benitez Tilley had come to the restaurant looking for work.

After a brief conversation, Benitez Tilley left, but returned a short time later and spoke with Carr, according to the probable cause affidavit.

That employee told investigators they left at 11:15 p.m. and only Carr, Smith and Benitez Tilley were at the restaurant, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Video surveillance was obtained from a nearby store. It showed a Dodge Caravan park and the driver walked towards Papa John’s.

Approximately 10 minutes later, the person returned to the vehicle and drove away.

At approximately 10:45 p.m., a gold Dodge Caravan returns to the parking lot and parks in the same area. The subject exits the vehicle and walks towards the Papa John’s.

The video showed the person returning to the vehicle at approximately 11:32 p.m. and drives behind the restaurant without the lights on, investigators said.

On February 7, Benitez Tilley was a passenger in a gold 2007 Dodge Caravan that was impounded by police, reports said.

Investigators said they obtained surveillance footage from the Papa John’s that showed the murders.

A still photo of the suspect was shown to an employee, who identified the person as Benitez Tilley, according to the probable cause affidavit.

On Sunday at 6:30 p.m., investigators located Benitez Tilley and conducted an interview with him.

Benitez Tilley admitted to driving the Dodge Caravan to Papa John’s twice on the evening of February 12, reports said.

He said during his second visit he shot and killed both Smith and Carr, according to the probable cause affidavit.

After Smith was deceased, he took off her clothes and, “attempted to have sexual intercourse with her,” according to court documents.

Benitez Tilley said he attempted to dispose of the bodies but he was unable to. Before leaving the restaurant he admitted to stealing Smith’s purse, jewelry from Carr and cash from the office, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Share this article: