Former Delaware bank executive whose second wife’s murder remains unsolved gets 2 years in prison for brutalizing third wife

Content warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. 

Police and prosecutors still have not solved the 2019 murder of former Delaware banking executive Benjamin Ledyard’s second wife, but on Friday, a judge sentenced him to two years behind bars for battering his third wife and using what a prosecutor called “enough force to cause a gaping wound that exposed her skull.”

Superior Court Judge Danielle Brennan put Ledyard, 56, into prison for the crime of felony second-degree assault against Stephanie Ledyard on New Year’s Day.

The judge said she took into consideration the prosecutor’s memo that documented several prior acts of violence against Stephanie Ledyard that sent her to the hospital more than once.

Yet both Ledyards, who married in September 2021, cried openly in court as they beseeched the judge to give him a sentence of only probation.

“Please don’t incarcerate him. I beg you, I beg you,’’ Stephanie Ledyard, 55, said. “Please give us a chance. I forgive him. I believe God forgives him. If I forgive him, why can’t anybody else?”

Benjamin Ledyard, a former investment consultant with Wilmington Trust and Bank of America, told the judge his alcoholism fueled the attack, said he’s received treatment and is committed to being sober and non-violent.

“I’m so sorry for what I did to her,’’ he told the judge. “Please, please don’t send me to jail, I’ll do anything you ask.”

Benjamin Ledyard’s attorney, Peter Veith, also asked for probation, but told Brennan he expected her to order some prison time for the indefensible New Year’s Day attack. Veith said his client had been offered a job and wanted to support his family and stay sober, but that if he went to prison, the couple would likely lose their home to foreclosure.

Benjamin Ledyard had pleaded guilty in August to the January 1 attack. That was part of a plea deal in which prosecutors dropped charges of terroristic threatening and menacing in that beating, and of first-degree assault from an attack in the summer of 2022, during which she told police he bit off the tip of her finger and told her he probably swallowed it.

Prosecutor Jenna Milecki asked the judge to give Benjamin Ledyard three years behind bars. Second-degree assault is a Class D violent felony with a sentencing range of zero to eight years in prison.

Brennan agreed with Milecki that time behind bars was merited and necessary, adding that she was shocked by photos of his bloody wife that she had viewed. “I thought they were autopsy photos,” Brennan said.

The judge also ordered that after he is released from prison, Benjamin Ledyard must spend six months in confinement at a work-release center or home, and another 18 months on probation. She also mandated that he receive substance abuse and mental health treatment.

And despite the tearful pleas of the Ledyards that she lift a no-contact order that’s been in place since his January 1 arrest, Brennan said that order will remain in place at least until he leaves prison.

  • December 22, 2023
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