Clifford Bennett lived with his 78-year-old mother Joyce Coffel in a house in the 5800 block of East I Street. He was 57 and disabled. A woman was lived in the basement. Her 27-year-old son had been staying there for a few days. Last Tuesday the 27-year-old had been up for three days on a combination of heroin and methamphetamines. A little after two in the afternoon, the 27-year-old went upstairs and hit Clifford with a ballpeen hammer five or six times, killing him. He also attacked Clifford’s mother hitting her with the hammer in both eyes. At the time of this writing she is still at Harborview with life threatening injuries.
Clifford Bennett is the eighth Tacoma homicide this year. His mother may very well become the ninth. We are on track to have roughly one homicide a month this year which is fairly typical for the city of Tacoma.
Given the ages and circumstances of the victims, there simply isn’t much information about the lives of Clifford Bennett or Joyce Coffel. Those who knew them are encouraged to share stories about them in the comments section. As always, I monitor the comments section and each comment must be approved before it appears. This is to stop disrespectful or hurtful comments.
On a personal note, I’ve been writing about Tacoma homicides in one form or another for almost ten years now. Sometimes I find the words easily and I’m able to share how people are killed in my hometown. Other times, like with this particular case, I find it much more difficult.
Clifford and Joyce didn’t live in the best neighborhood. And she was likely renting out rooms to help offset the costs of taking care of her disabled son. Clifford and Joyce deserved better than this senseless act.
Again, as always, comments are reserved for those who knew Clifford or Joyce. My thoughts go out to their friends and family.
– Jack Cameron
Hey my names shyla.
Well ill start by saying Clifford was a very very funny guy , he made me breakfast one morning and told me the code word (to know when the food was done also he didn’t wanna get into trouble by his mom for having company over.) Well the code word was kah-booty kah-booty. Which i still say today.. also come to find out Clifford likes to spit and add weired stuff to his food when he cooks.,. Omg it was sweet of him though. I also knew nick that boy had the hugest crush on me and he never seemed to be all there in the head..but we all prob knew he’d be phyco enough to do something like this . Anyways i hope she will be ok but to Clifford i love u buddy r.i.p i know hes not hurting like he was when he was alive. His legs were so purple and looked painful poor dude. Love shyla.
As a family member, I can tell you on behalf of the cousins Clifford was a loving kind soul, who cared for everybody. I can tell you Joyce was one in a million! Some people take in stray animals but Joyce took in stray or “lost people” and she tried her best to show them love! She took my Grandma (her aunt) from a long term care home and brought her to her house where she lovingly care for Grandma Helen until she passed away in 2001. My kids and I traveled out to visit (we live in VA) in 2005. Joyce was already 68 years old then but my kids were young and wanted to have fun so “auntie Joyce as they called her” took them out to the go karts, fishing and then we spent another day picnicking and getting to know her. I can tell you she loves people, loves the lord and never turned away a hurting soul. As for this young man that savagely attack my cousin and aunt, I pray for him and his family. No one deserves this treatment but especially not Joyce or Clifford.
as for the neighborhood not being the best she has lived there for well over 30 years and if you look back it wasn’t that “type” of neighborhood then. She took in borders to help pay her bills as a senior on a fixed income caring for a disabled child she didn’t have a lot of choice. She also tried to help people out so my guess-she was probably helping the very person that killed her son and almost killed her!
I lived with Clifford and Joyce for almost a year in 2010. Joyce didn’t have any rooms available at the time I needed one so she converted her living room into a bedroom for me. Both Clifford and Joyce liked to collect things. Some may have referred to them as hoarders but I prefer to call them collectors. Although one might assume that anyone who collects that much stuff must be greedy, that wasn’t the case with them. They loved to give everything away. They got regular donations of clothing and linens from the laundromat around the corner. Clifford had difficulty walking but he would dress funny, often in shorts, combat boots, a t~shirt and always a crazy funny hat, get on his bike that pulled a cart and pick the donations up. He delivered home to his Mom to be.washed and distributed to those in need. If I remember correctly Joyce only charged me $200/no for room and board. Clifford was one of a kind. He was hilarious.. He was very tall and I am very short so he got a kick out of hiding things from me up on top of cu
I met Clifford back in 1995 he was one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. Back then he was homeless living on the streets on really cold nights I would leave my back door unlocked for him I had told him time and time again that if it ever got too cold he was welcome to come in grab the blanket Id leave folded on the back of the couch and sleep inside . I think maybe once or twice he had taken me up on that.,and even then in the morning Id find him curled up on floor in the corner instead of the sofa when I”d ask why, and he would reply ” I don’t want to impose”, I remember he would walk across the hilltop to get something to eat at the foodbank but by the time he walked back he’d be empty handed because he’d stop all along the way sharing his meager amount of food he had stood in line somewhere for with elderly folks he ‘d check in on befriended here and there in his travels . Where young or old he could make people laugh with humorous antics, jokes or impressions. My favorite was Jimmy Stewart. R.I.P. my dear friend , You be will greatly missed. Patricia Hoxie, Tacoma WA
To whom it may concern…I am the Mother of Nicholas…I myself ..Am verry sorry of this Whole ..episode!! Verry Verry SAD!! Tears me apart..EVERYDAY!! I Lost my Son ..that Day..ALSO.. I NEVER IN MY DAYS WOULD HAVE EVER Thought??…. I MISS MY SON VERRY MUCH SO!!….
I’ve known Clifford for 25 years and I’m outraged that they offered him 20 years and is going to except the plea in just over an hour this morning. How can someone commit such a savage attack and be back on the streets to finish his life. And for the record Joyce was attacked first then Clifford tried to get out of his wheelchair to help his mom. These were two very giving people and Nicholas was asked never to return to there home after Joyce maced him for stealing from her it was against Joyce’s request that the mother allowed her son into her apartment and he told another friend of his he was going to get even with her for macing him I just don’t understand how someone could ever walk in this world outside of prison for what he has done. RIP Clifford and Joyce I will speak on your behalf if the judge will allow at his sentencing miss you big guy