The food and entertainment worlds were deeply saddened earlier this week by the news that Masterchef Junior star Ben Watkins had passed away at the age of 14. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, the cause of death was a rare and serious type of cancer known as Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. The disease predominantly affects children and young adults, and is currently diagnosed in just six other people worldwide.
However, Ben’s illness was sadly not the only tragic event in his life. According to The Chicago Tribune, the teenager lost his parents to a brutal murder-suicide back in 2017. He was just 10 years old at the time.
Police reported that on September 16, 2017, officers were called to the Watkins’ home at 7235 East 1st Street in Gary, Indiana, at 9:15 a.m. after receiving a request for a wellness check from a family member. When investigators arrived, they found Ben’s mother, Leila Edwards, had multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:22 a.m., per The Northwest Indiana Gazette. She was a beloved artist in the area who was well known for her stained glass pieces.
Her husband, Michael Watkins, was also pronounced dead at the scene after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Ben was reportedly at home when the murder-suicide occurred but was physically unharmed.
Leila Edwards’ mother, Donna, and her younger brother, Anthony, said at the time they had not seen any warning signs and did not know what caused Watkins to act violently.
“Sometimes it’s better not to know,” Donna said about looking for a reason behind a seemingly senseless act.
However, the two did admit that the couple had been discussing a possible divorce.
The grieving brother also claimed that life had understandably been an “adjustment” for Ben following the death of his parents.
“It’s been an obvious adjustment for Ben, but he’s doing well, considering everything,” Anthony Edwards said. “We take it one day at a time.”
Donna added that they also relied on their faith, citing “a lot of prayers” to get them through the tragedy.
Meanwhile, the community rallied around Ben after the horrific crime, even creating an educational trust for his future.
“We, as a community, wanted to pull together and show him that he is not alone. We love him and we will always be here for him,” explained Trent McCain, a local parent and attorney who helped organize the fund.
Murder-suicides are believed to claim the lives of around 1,3000 people each year in the United States, per the Violence Policy Center.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.