The attorney soon found employment with the Atlanta law firm of Kidd, Pickens and Tate. When not working at his chosen vocation, he was apparently pursuing his other, crueler interests.
One victim, James Crowe, later described his frightening encounter with The Handcuff Man. Crowe was just 19 years old. In the early part of the summer of 1977, he testified in a deposition, I was on Buford highway and I was hitchhiking to Atlanta. Friends had told Crowe that gay men hung out in Piedmont Park so that was where the slender, longhaired youth went.
At Piedmont Park he met a slim, tall fellow wearing large glasses.
Do you drink? the man asked.
Yeah, Crowe responded.
Want to make some money?
The man told Crowe that all he had to do was drink. The more shots you drink, the man told him, the more money Ill give you.
Crowe stepped into the tall mans blue Cadillac. The older man gave his new friend some liquor and Crowe was soon feeling tipsy. The man drove the pair to a trailer park and began playing with Crowes penis.
Suddenly Crowe sensed something was wrong. He tried to get out of the car, but the other man grabbed him by his long hair and pulled hard. Still, James unlocked the car door and torpedoed out. As he did so, he felt a sharp, stinging pain on his right shoulder. He ran and his attacker ran after him. Crowe fell, then got up and started screaming and throwing rocks at his assailant. Crowe got away but did not seek medical attention for his wounds or report the attack to the police. He gave as his reasons that he doesnt like doctors and did not want his sister to know he had been hustling.
A couple of weeks later, Crowe was back at Piedmont Park, this time with another, more experienced hustler who was trying to show me some ropes, he said. Crowe spotted the man who had plied him with drinks and stabbed his shoulder. He pointed him out to the other hustler, who instantly recognized the thin, dark-haired man. Hes got a bad reputation, the hustler told Crowe. They call him Handcuff Man.
During roughly this time period, Bennett at age 29 began dating a female secretary, Sandra Powell, who worked at the law firm. She was five years older and earned $17,000 per year. At first, the two shared rides home from work, then began dating. Bennett proposed to her in 1978 and Powell accepted. She agreed to marry him despite his honest admission to her that they would not be husband and wife in the complete sense. Bennett told her that he was impotent.
The marriage was one of convenience for both parties. They enjoyed each other's company and he treated her like a princess, said Bennetts lawyer Guy Notte.
Did Bennetts bride see anything in him beside dollar signs? Maybe. He was an intelligent man, Notte said. He had a very dry sense of humor at times.
Shortly after their marriage, Bennett quit the law firm and got a job as a jewelry salesman at Davisons department store in Columbia Mall. Then, for reasons unknown, he stopped working. He did not need money, His father had died of heart failure and left his son a great deal of money, including a portfolio of stocks, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Bennetts elegant Towanda mansion.
According to Sandra Powell Bennetts testimony at their divorce trial, Bennett did not become much of a househusband. He would just hang around the house all day, she claimed, and he would be in his robe when I got home. She said that she worked at her paid job, then went home to do all of the cooking and housecleaning. Bennett often suffered from insomnia. The main pleasures in his life appeared to be working in his garden and painting landscapes. The situation was very stressful, she recalled, but she kept it inside and tried not to let it affect the relationship. Despite their troubles, they discussed adopting a child, but never followed through on their plans.
During his marriage, Bennett apparently pursued a hobby other than painting and gardening torture, which his confused, lonely wife knew nothing about.
In early 1982, young Cleveland Bubb was standing on an Atlanta street corner. Bubb was a good-looking guy with a rather wide nose and an oval face. A man in a blue car drove up to Bubb. Would you drink a bottle of vodka with me? he asked. Ill give you $100 to do it. Bubb got in the car, and the two men drank together. The man wore expensive clothes but seemed a bit sloppy. He had a gold chain around his neck and the first three buttons of his shirt open. The pair also went to a bar called The Texas Drilling Company and downed a few.
The next thing Bubb remembers is waking up in the parking lot. He wore only his parachute pants and had two cigarette burns, one on his belly and the other on an arm. Later Bubb would say that he wanted to take a bottle and break it over [his attackers] fucking head.
In September 1982, something happened that shocked Sandra Powell Bennett to the core and led her to leave her husband.
Bob Bennett Jr. was arrested for murder and armed robbery. His wife was walking home from a bus stop when she saw her handcuffed husband being led from their home by uniformed police officers.
What is it? What have you done? she gasped.
I dont know, he replied, apparently as baffled as she was. They wont tell me anything.
Bennett was charged with the murder of 24-year-old James Lee Johnson, a dishwasher who had been shot. His body was found with his wallet missing.
Although the charges were dropped two months later because of insufficient evidence, Sandra Bennett did not return to her husband. He contested her suit for divorce. According to Notte, his lawyer, He knew she was going to get out of the marriage, but he simply contested it because of the money, because she wanted a fortune.
Three gay male prostitutes testified at the divorce trial that they believed Bennett to be the notorious Handcuff Man. Sandra Bennett was granted a divorce and awarded $40,000 as a divorce settlement; in addition, Bennett was ordered to pay $12,000 in lawyers fees.