Goshen man pleads guilty but mentally ill in car dealer’s murder

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A northern Indiana man Thursday pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder in the stabbing death of a 73-year-old car dealer.

Samuel Byfield, 23, was accused of stabbing Goshen used car dealer Wayne Bontrager eight times after the two began arguing during a test drive on Feb. 14, 2022.

First responders found Bontrager still breathing and consciousness, with a bloodied knife on the ground nearby. Byfield was arrested after a 911 caller followed his vehicle until it crashed and he fled on foot. Police found him in a wooded area after following his tracks in the snow.

Byfield, of Goshen, told investigators that Bontrager told him to return to the car lot and punched him in the chest when he continued to drive. He said they exchanged blows and then he stopped the car and pulled Bontrager out. Bontrager died from his injuries nearly a month later.

His plea agreement calls for a 55-year prison term. He also must pay restitution to Bontrager’s family.

Elkhart Circuit Judge Michael Christofeno accepted the plea and set sentencing for Feb. 9.

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