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Minister Details Bizarre Encounter With Ex-FBI Agent

August 14, 1996

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) _ Distraught over his wife’s affair with best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell, a former FBI agent was insane when he kidnapped a minister and ambushed his wife at a church, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Eugene Bennett could not stand the thought of a lesbian raising his two daughters, said lawyer Reid Weingarten at a court hearing on whether Bennett’s case should go before a grand jury.

Military service and his FBI career ``did not prepare him for his wife’s alternative lifestyle, a lifestyle he abhorred and a lifestyle he thought presented a danger to his little girls,″ Weingarten said.

Neither Marguerite Bennett nor Cornwell, who has made a fortune writing novels about a medical examiner who solves crimes while managing her complicated love life, have admitted to having an affair.

But Bennett, 41, was convinced of it and made the charge in divorce court to win custody of their two daughters from his 42-year-old wife, also a former FBI agent.

The Rev. Edwin Clever, who had intended to testify on Marguerite’s behalf, testified Tuesday that he was summoned to his Prince of Peace United Methodist Church by a mysterious caller on June 23, and encountered a gunman in a ski mask.

``Someone jumped up out of the stairwell pointing a gun at me, asking me if I wanted to live,″ Clever said.

Clever said the gunman forced him to the floor of the church, put a gun behind his head and shackled him to a chair. Then, he strapped what he said were plastic explosives around Clever’s waist. It was actually Play-Doh.

When the gunman threatened to harm Clever’s children if he did not call Marguerite and ask her to come to the church, Clever complied.

But Marguerite suspected something was up. She came armed with a pistol, and upon her arrival Clever heard a commotion.

``She was shouting, `No, Gene, no. Don’t do this,″ Clever testified, saying Marguerite ran and took cover in his office.

From behind his desk, she aimed pepper spray at Bennett and called out to Clever.

``She said, `Edwin, you know we’re going to die,‴ Clever said. ``I said I kind of figured that.″

Bennett fired one shot at her husband. He fled home, keeping police at bay for several hours. Then he surrendered _ after saying he had to lock his alter ego, Ed, in the garage.

Police said they found live bomb components outside the church, in one of Bennett’s cars and inside a storage locker at the community college where Marguerite works.

Following the testimony a judge ordered the case sent to a grand jury, ruling there was sufficient evidence against Bennett on kidnapping charges.

He faces 50 years in prison if convicted.

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