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Man arrested after faking his death to avoid registering as a sex offender

Benjamin Hollins, a 50-year-old Arizona man, was arrested after he faked his death to avoid registering as a sex offender, law enforcement officials said.

His attempt to evade the law was to file a false report of his suicide, but investigators eventually found him in Mesa, a city not far from the state capital of Phoenix.

The context

Hollins’ criminal history dates back more than two decades to when he was first convicted as a sex offender in California, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office reported in a Facebook post announcing his arrest. By 2018, he moved to Arizona, where he evaded sex offender registration requirements, the post says. While working as a behavioral health counselor in Arizona City, Hollins kidnapped and attempted to molest a 16-year-old client. As part of a plea deal, he received supervised probation and was required to register annually as a sex offender.

Mugshot of Benjamin Hollins
Screenshots from a Facebook video showing Benjamin Hollins’ arrest and booking photo. Hollins faked his death in October 2023 to avoid registering as a sex offender, police officials said, but he was arrested on…


Pinal County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook

In October 2023, Hollins, with the help of an accomplice, orchestrated a plan to evade these obligations. The sheriff’s office said the woman helped him file a false report by claiming she saw Hollins take his own life by jumping off the Theodore Roosevelt Lake Bridge between Gila and Maricopa counties. Despite an extensive search, no body was found and his registration was forfeited as he was presumed dead.

What we know

“A lot of resources were wasted searching for his body, which obviously wasn’t found because he wasn’t dead,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said in the Facebook video.

Law enforcement officers, particularly investigators with the Chandler Police Department, continued to investigate Hollins’ disappearance, the sheriff said, and they discovered he was living under a false identity at a home in Mesa.

Hollins was arrested on May 14 by the Pinal County Regional SWAT Team.

“Great job by my deputies, detectives and the Chandler PD in holding this guy accountable for his actions, despite his best attempts to disappear,” Lamb said in the video’s caption.

Hollins lived with a family with young children and was unaware of his criminal past, the sheriff’s office added.

Charges against Hollins following his arrest include failure to register as a sex offender and providing false information to law enforcement.

Newsweek The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has reached out to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for further comment via email after hours.

Screenshot by Sheriff Mark Lamb
A screenshot from a Facebook video in which Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb details Hollins’ capture. The sheriff’s office said Hollins was found in Mesa, Arizona, where he was living with a family with young children.

Pinal County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook

Views

“Nice try, Benjamin. We found you. You are not dead. We will hold you accountable,” Lamb said in the Facebook video.

Social media users who commented on the video praised the work of law enforcement officials, while some expressed surprise that a repeat sex offender had only received probation.