POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A boyfriend and girlfriend were arrested for their alleged roles in the murder of a 34-year-old man who was killed in a case of mistaken identity.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said 34-year-old Benjamin Mason III “was the ultimate victim in the wrong place at the wrong time and ran into some exceptionally evil people” on the afternoon of March 26.
“Here’s what happened,” Judd told reported at a news conference Tuesday. “Ben had been in an argument with his girlfriend earlier in the morning and she dropped him off at the Walmart in Bartow.”
From there, Mason called his uncle, who picked him up and brought him back to his house. There, Mason asked if he could take his uncle’s dirt bike for a ride near their home. His uncle agreed.
At the same time, 28-year-old Wesley Andino, and 26-year-old Adriana Del Valle, who were dating, were in the same neighborhood looking for a similar dirt bike they were trying to purchase.
Judd said that a few days earlier, “Adriana decides she’ll buy [the dirt bike] for Wesley, so she puts $100 down via a cash app.”
According to the sheriff, Del Valle then called the seller and asked for her money back “because I found out that my boyfriend was cheating on me and I’m no longer interested in buying him a dirt bike.”
When the seller disagreed to return the money, Andino and Del Valle decide to search the neighborhood in hopes of getting their money back. That’s when they spotted Ben on his uncle’s dirtbike.
“Ben doesn’t know them,” Judd says. “[He] doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and drives off. When he drives off, Ol’ grits for brains here jumps out, and shoots one time at him.”
Deputies said the couple then fled the area and returned home. When detectives traced the shooting back to the couple, they discovered they had packed their bags and moved to Delaware.
With the help of federal and local authorities, the two were arrested in Delaware from a Polk County arrest warrant.
Andino was charged with first-degree murder. Del Valle was charged with accessory
to a capital felony.
“If there’s ever been a classic case to spend the rest of your life in prison, this is it,” Judd said.