Update: Man arrested in truck licensing auditor's death

| Thursday, June 27, 2002

Police have arrested a Washington man for questioning in the disappearance of a state worker whose body was discovered last weekend in a ditch outside Spokane. A cause of death has not been released.

Trucker Ralph Benson was arrested after police found guns at his home during a search for evidence in the disappearance of Roger Erdman, a state Licensing Department auditor. Erdman was last seen June 12 in Spokane before a scheduled meeting with Benson to gather records for an audit.

Benson was arrested Monday morning after being spotted along I-5 in Seattle for investigation of felony weapons violations and for questioning in Erdman's disappearance, according to a published report. A convicted felon, Benson is not allowed to possess guns, but investigators found two handguns and a shotgun or rifle in his Davenport home.

Benson was interviewed and released last week by police in Sparks, NV. He reportedly was making a delivery and pickup in the area. Investigators also searched Benson's property for four days last week and allegedly found evidence of a crime.

Benson reportedly filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization last month. He had been randomly selected for an audit by Erdman, whose job included analyzing truckers' records for compliance with fuel taxes and license fees.

Trucker Ralph Benson also was investigated but never charged in the disappearance of trucker John W. Deetz in December 1988. Deetz's rig was found in 1991 on land owned by Benson in Southern California, but Deetz has never been found.

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