Tobacco heiress Carol Lynn Benson Kendall, who survived a car bombing that killed her mother and her supposedly adopted brother, has said under oath that the dead young man was actually her son, her attorney said today.
Florida authorities have charged Steven Benson, Kendall's 34-year-old natural brother, with setting the blast outside the family's Naples, Fla., home because he believed he was about to be cut out of his mother's will.
During a deposition taken by Benson's lawyers in Florida on Sept. 20, Kendall, 40, said she was an unmarried teen-ager when she became pregnant.
Kendall's Boston attorney, E. Richard Cirace, said Scott Benson was born in 1965 in a Baltimore hospital and later adopted by Kendall's mother, Margaret Benson of Lancaster, Pa., heiress to the Lancaster Leaf Tobacco Co. fortune. Margaret Benson was 63 when she died in the blast.
"There had been general rumors (about the boy's parentage) going around Lancaster, where the family was brought up," Cirace said. "People had suspicions as to why, after having two children of her own, all of a sudden Mrs. Benson adopts a third."
Cirace said the rumors were never confirmed until Steven Benson's lawyers questioned Kendall about it, to test her credibility. "It wasn't discussed. I guess people just exhibited good taste," he said.
He said Kendall, who is recovering from severe burns at her home in the Chestnut Hill section of Boston, recently told her teen-age sons about Scott's parentage but never told Scott.
"To my knowledge, Scott never confronted his mother with the question. The family and everybody just treated his grandmother as Scott's mother," the lawyer said.
"I have a strong feeling Steven Benson also knew," Cirace said.
Steven Benson's trial is scheduled to begin in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 13.