Crime & Courts

Anchorage man sentenced to 75 years in torture and murder of woman in 2016

An Anchorage man was sentenced to 75 years in prison Wednesday in the torture and murder of a 30-year-old woman at his home in 2016.

The sentence comes nearly eight years after Benjamin Wilkins, now 42, killed Jacqueline Goodwin in a case prosecutors say was delayed by the pandemic and other factors, including extensive evidence testing.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson said the case stood out to him because “the level of cruelty is unimaginable.” Prosecutors say Goodwin was found in Wilkins’ car. She had been beaten, shot and bound with a bag put over her head.

Peterson handed down the maximum sentence allowed by a plea agreement Wilkins entered in November. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for the dismissal of additional charges against him, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and drug-related counts.

Police first came into contact with Wilkins on June 27, 2016, when he got into a collision while driving near DeBarr Road and Lake Otis Parkway, according to prosecutor Trina Sears. He was intoxicated when he crashed the car, she said.

Officers found Goodwin’s body under a sleeping bag in Wilkins’ car, Sears said. She had been shot in the stomach and severely beaten; state medical examiners estimated she had been struck more than 100 times, Sears said.

It isn’t entirely clear how Goodwin and Wilkins came into contact or knew each other, she said.


During a subsequent search of Wilkins’ house, police located more than 30 pounds of drugs, including heroin, Xanax and methamphetamine, along with more than $125,000 cash, charges filed in the case said.

Wilkins served nine years in federal prison after he was arrested in 2003 for pointing a gun at Anchorage police officers and for selling drugs. He did well on probation for that crime, but began selling drugs again after his supervision ended, Judge Peterson said.

On Wednesday, Wilkins’ public defender argued he was not necessarily the person who assaulted and killed Goodwin, though he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Assistant Public Defender Chong Yim said that another family member may have been culpable.

Wilkins pleaded guilty because he could have faced a mandatory 99-year sentence if convicted of first-degree murder by a jury and because he would have had to incriminate his family in his defense, Yim said.

Peterson said Wednesday that “every single factor in this case points squarely at Mr. Wilkins having committed this murder.” His behavior was especially perplexing because there was no explanation for it, the judge said.

Two of Wilkins’ family members were also convicted in relation to the case.

His half-brother, Connor Stefano, and his mother, Jacqueline Stefano, both pleaded guilty to a charge of hindering prosecution. They initially told police they had no information about the crime, but investigators later learned Jacqueline Stefano was home during the assault and called her son over to the home while it was happening, charges filed in the case said. Connor Stefano also pleaded guilty to a charge of tampering with evidence. He helped clean up the crime scene, Yim said. A drug-related charge was dismissed against Jacqueline Stefano.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Goodwin’s grandmother Pearl Goodwin described her as a smart, sweet child diagnosed with schizophrenia during her teenage years. Jacqueline Goodwin’s grandparents helped raise her and they were devastated by her death, Pearl Goodwin said.

She asked Peterson to give Wilkins the maximum sentence. Pearl Goodwin said that although she is upset Wilkins killed her granddaughter, she has forgiven him.

In an interview after the hearing, Pearl Goodwin said she felt relieved to have closure after waiting nearly eight years for the case to conclude.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at