Loretta Bowersock, Taw Benderly: Missing Arizona Woman Found Buried In Desert On Investigation Discovery’s ‘Grave Secrets’

When Taw Benderly showed up on Loretta Bowersock’s doorstep, she thought she’d met the man of her dreams. But the Investigation Discovery show Grave Secrets will show that Taw Benderly, the handsome stranger who claimed to be an inventor was a cunning killer. Loretta Bowersock, a well-to-do elderly woman looking for love, vanished on a trip with Benderly and was found buried in the desert over a year later. Taw Benderly was never brought to justice since he committed suicide days after his longtime girlfriend disappeared. On Grave Secrets’ episode “Her Mother’s Secrets,” the victim’s daughter, Terri Bowersock, might make an appearance, along with Tuscon detectives.

Grave Secrets: “Her Mother’s Secrets” On Investigation Discovery

  • When a beautiful elderly woman goes missing during a trip, her daughter believes that her live-in boyfriend is lying about the circumstances of her disappearance. It will take over a year and a shocking desert discovery to find out the truth.


Desert Storm

In December 2004, Terri Bowers received the most disturbing phone call of her life. It was from Taw Benderly, her mother’s live-in boyfriend of almost 20 years. He had bad news, Terri’s mother, Loretta Bowersock, had disappeared.

He explained that the two decided to take a short trip and that Loretta vanished after heading out to the local mall. According to the Tuscon Citizen, Taw Benderly laid out the following circumstances surrounding her disappearance.

“He and Loretta had driven to Tucson on Dec. 14, stopping at least twice along the way for sandwiches and baseball caps. He added that they arrived later that day at the Park Place mall, where he left Loretta so she could shop. He concluded that when he returned for her sometime later, she had vanished.”

Benderly filed a missing persons report and the investigation into the missing woman’s disappearance ensued. Terri knew immediately that her mother was in danger.

Detectives also found it odd that Loretta had not taken her purse on the trip since it was found in her Arizona home. Nothing that Taw Benderly said about the trip added up. For years, Terri and her mother’s friends had grown suspicious of her handsome husband, who literally showed up on her doorstep out of nowhere after answering an ad to rent a room in Loretta Bowersock’s home.


Loretta was a good-looking but lonely older woman with money. She thought the idea of having a male tenant to rent out a room in her home might spark a lasting romance. Unfortunately for Loretta Bowers, the relationship with Taw Benderly lasted far too long.

The first warning signs that something was off about Benderly should have not gone unnoticed, especially when he told Lorretta that he was from Scotland and had no identification and no money.

With the promise of building a successful invention, Loretta made the fatal error of allowing him to stay. Book author Jana Bommersbach said that Taw Benderly was charming and handsome. The intelligent man also boasted that he was an entrepreneur and an inventor, who had even attended school with Donald Trump.

But police say everything Taw Benderly told Loretta was a lie. The investigation revealed that Benderly was an ex-con who had just been released from prison when he met Loretta. For 18 years, she had no idea that her full-time lover had been in prison. Maybe knowing that would have changed the outcome. But during an interview for the documentary show Handsome Devils, Jana Bommersbach said that women like Loretta, who often have everything going good for themselves, want a man so much that they overlook the warning signs.

For two desperate years, Terri Bowersock looked for her mother’s remains. She always knew that she was somewhere in the desert. In 2006, a couple digging for stones in a remote desert area near Stanfield found the remains of Loretta Bowersock.

Loretta Bowersock: A Few More Gripping Details

  • This was no shallow grave. The body was buried 18 feet deep. If it hadn’t been for the digging couple, her body would have most likely never been found.
  • A psychic had already indicated that the woman was buried.
  • Loretta Bowersock was found with a plastic bag wrapped around her head and shoved down her throat.
  • When Benderly came into their lives, he almost tore the mother and daughter apart forever.
  • Taw Benderly was found hanging in the garage of his home, according to the East Valley Tribune.
  • Taw Benderly never attended school with Donald Trump.
  • The book Bones In The Desert by Jana Bommersbach is based on the case.

Police believe the motive in the killing was most likely the confrontation that ensued after Loretta Bowersock finally discovered that Taw Benderly had been systematically stealing money from her for years. She made the discovery after receiving a foreclosure notice on her home. The Tuscon Citizen explains it this way.

“As Terri Bowersock began sifting through her mother’s personal belongings, she found graphic evidence that Loretta had been a victim of domestic abuse. That abuse exploded during a quarrel over finances Monday afternoon, Dec. 13, 2004. When Loretta found unauthorized withdrawals, she confronted Benderly and in a rage he killed her. He then wrapped her body, placed it in Loretta’s van, withdrew $24,000, and headed south on Interstate 10. He disposed of the body somewhere between Tempe and Tucson.”


Watch this week’s Grave Secrets at 9/8 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID). On last week’s episode, the case of Steven Brian Pennell was aired.

[Featured Image by Investigationtele]

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