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Manteca Police arrest suspect in stabbing death
Handcuffed murder suspect Dustin Wingard, 20, is seen with Street Crimes Unit Sergeant Chris Mraz after his arrest Tuesday near the intersection of Pecanwood and Birchwood avenues. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Manteca Police believe they have solved the Oct. 14 murder of a 24-year-old man at the intersection of South Sherman Avenue and Moffatt Boulevard with the arrest of Dustin Michael Wingard.

Drake Benton, 24, was knifed multiple times at about 8 p.m. and left to die on a sidewalk south of the Manteca High School campus in a neighborhood often frequented by homeless people.

The Manteca Police Street Crimes Unit of some five officers headed by Sgt. Chris Mraz had been looking for the 20-year-old suspect in a neighborhood where he was known to hang out when Mraz spotted him on foot and stopped him, making the arrest near the intersection of Pecanwood and Birchwood avenues at about 4 p.m.

Mraz was soon backed up by two of fellow Manteca officers after ordering the suspect on the ground at gunpoint and taking him into custody.

Officers said that Wingard offered no resistance when he was arrested in the quiet residential neighborhood.

Wingard was charged with suspicion of murder and taken to the Manteca Police Department for questioning before being transported to the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp where he is being held without bail.

Officers said earlier that the murder did not appear to be gang related.

The day after Benton was killed someone placed two yellow rose buds in the center of the blood-stained sidewalk on Sherman Avenue in obvious respect for the fallen man.

As of press time Tuesday night there had been no court date scheduled for the suspect, however it is believed it will be held on Thursday in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court.

Gregg Beall is lead detective on the case.