AUSTIN (KXAN) — An anonymous letter sent to the Santa Ana Police Department led to an arrest 26 years after a young man was murdered. The suspect, his girlfriend, was arrested in Austin.

Santa Ana police say on January 4, 1996, they were dispatched to a call of a Black male suspect who had broken into an apartment and stabbed Christopher Hervey, 22, numerous times in his torso area. Hervey died on scene.

Hervey’s girlfriend, Jade Benning, lived in the apartment and police said she made vague statements about the incident while they interviewed her in 1996. Neighbors reportedly told police they heard a loud argument in the apartment prior to the stabbing death.

Detectives say they were unable to determine exactly what happened to Hervey and the case went cold. Benning ended up moving to Austin.

Police say more than two decades later they got an anonymous letter, in January 2020, implicating Benning in the murder. That prompted a homicide cold case detective to take another look at the case and do forensic testing.

Jade Benning
Jade Benning (Courtesy Santa Ana Police Department)

Though police did not say exactly what the forensic testing led to, they said they had enough evidence to issue a warrant for Benning. Agents from the U.S. Marshalls Lone Star Fugitive Task Force then arrested Benning in her Austin home, Santa Ana police said.

We spoke with some of Benning’s Southeast Austin neighbors, who say they never had any problems with her – but that she kept to herself.

One man says he’s lived right next door to her for 15 years. He says he’s seen law enforcement at the house before, which is when the neighborhood first heard murmurings she may be involved in an out-of-state murder case.

“We first heard about this about a year ago I guess. The police came flying into this neighborhood and wrapped around her home,” said Michael Neuweg.

We’ve reached out to multiple local and state agencies for more information about the events leading up to Benning’s arrest.

Benning is still in the Travis County jail as of Wednesday morning, according to jail records. She will be extradited to California where she will face murder charges, the Santa Ana PD said in a release.

Benning’s attorney, Paul Evans, did not have a comment.