West York, NY – Charles Benjamin, 71, of West York, is charged with five counts of aggravated assault and related offenses. He’s set to appear for a preliminary hearing on April 3.
Fringer said he’s known Benjamin for 30 to 35 years. He’s friendly and level-headed. And he’s a hard worker.
When Fringer learned about the allegations of severe child abuse against his former co-worker, he said he was taken by surprise.
“I couldn’t say anything bad about Charlie Benjamin, really,” said Fringer, 67, who’s now retired and lives in North Codorus Township.
Benjamin, 71, of West York, is charged with five counts of aggravated assault and related offenses. He’saccused of severely beating five of his children — ranging in age from 2 to 6 — and keeping them locked in the urine-soaked bedroom of a home on West Market Street near Highland Avenue.
Law enforcement has described the home as a “house of horrors.” A set of infant twins, police said, were spared from the abuse.
The York Daily Record/Sunday News has since learned additional information through interviews and court records about Benjamin — including that he’s the father to at least 13 children. But there is still little about his background that’s known.
West York neighbors unaware of ‘house of horrors’
Benjamin does not appear to have a criminal record in Pennsylvania. He remains in York County Prison, as does the mother of the children.
In 1975, Benjamin and his wife, Margaret, bought a home from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Parkway Boulevard, not far from Kiwanis Lake in York, for $1, according to property records. Court records show that there was a tax claim for about $2,850 — it’s since been satisfied — filed against the property as recently as April 20, 2018.
Later, in 1993, a woman named Debra Lutz filed a complaint for custody in the York County Court of Common Pleas. She was looking to recover custody of one child and confirm custody of two children that she’d had with Benjamin.
In the complaint, Lutz wrote that Benjamin was living in the home on Parkway Boulevard with a wife and 14 minor children. It’s unclear whether he was the father of all those children. But a separate court document stated that he was living with 10 daughters and two sons.
Lutz, who declined to be interviewed, alleged that the home was too small for 16 people. It was her understanding, she wrote, that one of the children had been required to sleep in an attic heated only by an electric heater.
Benjamin did not appear at the conciliation conference, according to court records.
In 2002, Benjamin took part in a protest outside the future site of the York County Judicial Center because non-union labor was being used on the project.
“I pay taxes in the city and I have to watch them bring outside contractors to do the work,” Benjamin said in an interview. “I think the American way of life is under attack.”
Last month, the York County Office of Children, Youth and Families called and asked for a police officer to help remove seven children from the West York home. Police opened a criminal investigation based on what they saw in the house.
Charges were filed on Feb. 28.
The mother of their seven children, Janay Fountain, 25, is charged with 10 counts of endangering the welfare of children. It’s unclear what the nature of her relationship is to Benjamin.
‘Way more than 13’ children
Janay Fountain, mother of seven kids with Charles Benjamin, is charged with endangering the welfare of children.
Benjamin has at least 13 children, according to interviews, court records and social media posts. But law enforcement says he has more.
“It is way more than 13,” said West York Borough Police Detective Michael Mendez, the lead investigator, who added that’s based on interviews conducted so far in the case. “It’s an ongoing investigation.”
Heather Herring, 47, a shift supervisor at a men’s shelter who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a 29-year-old daughter with Benjamin.
“Looking at a family photo of them looks like a family reunion,” said Herring, who described the situation as “the Brady Bunch times five” but did not know the exact number of children. “He has a lot — a lot — of kids.”
Benjamin, she said, goes by the nicknames “Chubbs” and “Chubby.” She said she ended their two- to three-year relationship when she discovered that he was married.
He’s way too old for this foolishness. And who is having sex with this guy? Look at him. All he seems to be able to do is spread his seed into a bunch of crack heads. Maybe there were a few decent baby mommas out of his past but this recent chick is just as screwed up as he is.
The young lady in the picture above looks like she was being held hostage herself. There are twin babies in this house. What’s it all for? FOOD STAMPS, EIC claiming your kids on tax returns? This is so disgusting but that girl could be his daughter. Men like this WILL sleep with their own children. It’s like a cult. Keeping everybody together. They moved in the house in the late night hours and nobody really saw the children. HOW DO YOU HIDE 11 KIDS? The neighbors are saying that the old man looked as if he could hardly move. But its clear that he had plenty of energy for beating the shit outta his kids. Maybe that was just a front. Everybody assumed he was the grandfather and you know what? He might be just that. He might be both.