Todd County sheriff's officials are searching for a 22-year-old man in connection with the deaths of a Long Prairie, Minn., couple who were identified by people who know the family.
The bodies of Barry Bennett, a former NFL player and Long Prairie physical education teacher, and his wife, Carol, were found Wednesday afternoon when a friend went to the home for a welfare check after phone calls and texts had gone unanswered since Tuesday.
The friend discovered Barry Bennett's body and called 911. Deputies discovered the second body after searching the home.
Investigators have released few details except to say the victims died under suspicious circumstances and that there is no immediate threat to public safety.
News about the deaths spread quickly among those living in Long Prairie, a town of about 3,500 people two hours northwest of the Twin Cities.
"It hit hard this morning," said Jon Kringen, superintendent for the Long Prairie Grey Eagle School District. "Everyone was in shock when they heard. It's impossible to comprehend that this could happen. People are lost for understanding. … He and his wife were good people."
Bennett, who played football at Concordia College, was a defensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints from 1978 to 1981 and the New York Jets from 1982 to 1988 before a one-game stint with the Vikings.
Unless someone asked, Bennett rarely talked about his NFL career, Kringen said.
"I think Barry saw that as one part of his life," he said. "But if he was asked, he would share stories."
Most Long Prairie folks knew Bennett as someone who was involved in the school, church and community. He taught high school physical education for about a decade, retiring four or five years ago, Kringen said.
"He was a really good man who loved kids," he said. "He was a kindhearted man who put children and families first."
A former student, who asked not to be identified, said she has fond memories of her former phy ed teacher — a man who was outgoing and empathetic.
"He always made you feel great about yourself," she said. "He always gave you a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen."
Investigators say the suspect is believed to be driving a blue 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe with a license plate number BCK 487.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Central Minnesota Violent Offender's Task Force are assisting in the investigation.