This article belongs to the continuity of the novels by Marilyn Ross.

Benjamin Willard was a business associate and lifelong companion to Henry Collins of New York. Although he was an employee, he developed a deep friendship with Henry as the years passed on, and devoted practically his entire life to fulfilling Henry’s wishes.

In 1916, Benjamin noticed that Henry Collins began having an affair with a woman named Winifred Ray. Benjamin disapproved of the relationship and began to nurse a deep-seated hatred of Winifred. On October 31st of that same year, Winifred came to Henry’s room at the Ritz Hampton Hotel in New York. Inebriated, Winifred began bragging about how she had been having an affair behind Henry’s back. Henry slapped her, and Winifred reacted by attacking him with a letter opener. Acting in self-defense, Henry grabbed the girl by the throat and choked her to death. Benjamin and Henry took measures to hide Winifred’s body, and authorities did not find her remains for another two months. Benjamin and Henry successfully concealed the truth about their mutual crime for the next fifty years.

Some time after the incident, Benjamin took a wife and gave birth to a son named Jack. Jack would eventually grow up to become Henry Collins’ chauffer.

By 1957, Benjamin had developed an intense interest in astronomy.

In July of 1967, Benjamin, Jack and Jack’s wife, Molly attended Henry Collins on a trip to Collins House in Collinsport, Maine. Henry was very old by this point and had come for one final visit to see his family before he died. They met the Collins family governess, Victoria Winters. Benjamin and Henry were both shocked to discover that Victoria was the spitting image of Winifred Ray. Henry had taken a deep interest in Victoria, and Benjamin became worried that he might be witnessing history repeat itself. He knew that Henry had begun lavishing expensive gifts upon Victoria, so he conspired with his son and daughter-in-law to try to scare Vicki away by making her believe that the ghost of Winifred Ray haunted Collins House.

As the days passed, Henry Collins’ health worsened, and he eventually died following a severe seizure. After Henry’s funeral, Benjamin invited Victoria up to the captain’s walk of Collins House where he maintained his telescope equipment. He told Vicki the full background behind the murder of Winifred Ray. Because Vicki resembled Winifred so greatly, Benjamin’s hatred of the woman extended to Vicki as well. He lunged at her on the captain’s walk, and Vicki deflected his attack by swinging his telescope at him. Benjamin fell from the captain’s walk and had to be taken to a hospital in Ellsworth. He died from his injuries several days later.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Strangers at Collins House

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