A father paints portrait of his murdered son

Updated: Jul 30


Benjamin Cloer hiking Cathedral Trail in Sedona, AZ

By Steve Cloer

I am the father of Benjamin Lloyd Cloer, the UGA graduate student that was murdered on 11/10/2019. He went by “Lloyd” to most of his friends.

Since his case will be in the news occasionally, I wanted to let you know more about my son, so I’ve written a short biography of Lloyd.

This has been an unimaginable tragedy for his family and friends. The heartbreak his mother and I feel is indescribable.

News articles and stories that were published shortly after the incident didn’t have the accurate facts and were sensationalized with unsubstantiated drama needlessly.

The filings of defense attorneys also take liberty with the facts of the situation.

My son was simply having friends over, as he often did. They would commonly come and go throughout the day. There was no relationship between him and the killer’s wife.

Every news article we read about my son’s situation tears at the already broken hearts of his mother, myself, family and friends.

You will see from the biography what an accomplished, outstanding young man Lloyd was.

Lloyd’s killer robbed the world of someone who would have made it a better place for all mankind.

Our son, Benjamin Lloyd Cloer, of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, was tragically taken from us as a result of a senseless act of violence on Sunday, November 10, 2019. Born on May 31, 1993, Benjamin was 26 years, 5 months and 11 days old. 

Benjamin was an honor graduate of Norcross High School, Class of 2011. He received numerous academic and other significant awards each year. He was president of the Science Club, a member of the Math Team, and a member of the Spanish and Robotics clubs. He co-founded and served as vice president of the NHS Philosophy Guild. He played violin in the NHS Orchestra all four years.


Benjamin Cloer playing violin with the Norcross High School orchestra

He was named the NHS 2011 Sanders Financial Scholar by winning a virtual investment challenge competition, producing a financial annualized return of 125.9% in three months, over ten times greater than the second-place participant. Benjamin received perfect scores on his Calculus, Biology, Physics-B, Physics-C Mechanics, Macro Economics, Language and Psychology AP Exams. He received an SAT score of 2130 (97 percentile) and perfect scores for the Math Level 2, Biology, Chemistry and Physics SAT subject tests.

Following high school, Benjamin was awarded an academic scholarship to attend the prestigious and selective Pomona College in Claremont, CA. In addition to his course studies Benjamin worked as a research assistant studying biological neural networks and the binding of diabetes drugs using Dual Polarization Interferometry. He was a member of the Future-Tech Club, Bit Coin Club and the Nu Alpha Phi fraternity. Being an accomplished violinist, he was awarded several scholarships to study advanced violin while at Pomona. In 2015 he earned a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience with a minor in mathematics.

Benjamin Cloer with his parents, Deborah and Steve Cloer upon graduating from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Benjamin continued to pursue his education at Georgia State University as a full-time student. While taking graduate classes there he served as a Professor Assistant. He also worked full time as a tutor at C2 Education and had many of his own clients he tutored evenings and weekends while going to Georgia State. 

In the fall of 2018, Benjamin entered the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) program at the University of Georgia. He also served as a professor assistant at UGA. While at UGA, Duke University selected Benjamin in the summer of 2019 to develop and teach a four-week course, “An Introduction to AI,” which was held for high school students on the Georgia Tech campus. 

In the fall of 2020 Benjamin was planning on attending Georgia Tech to pursue his Doctorate in Artificial Intelligence. 

Benjamin loved the academic world, and that’s where he felt at home. He worked with numerous educational institutions as a tutor. He also called upon his entrepreneurial spirit to establish his own tutoring business to assist with his educational expenses. He used his tutoring talents and passion of learning to serve and inspire hundreds of students throughout his high school and college days. 

Benjamin’s heroes were not from the popular culture, but rather he was inspired by great historical thinkers, including philosophers, mathematicians, and physicists. He admired Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Alan Watts, Thomas Bayes, Paracelsus and the Stoic Marcus Aurelius.


Steve and Benjamin Cloer at Grand Canyon National Park

Besides his passion for the academic world, Benjamin had a love for the outdoors and adventure, which he shared with his father. Camping, hiking, rock climbing, dirt bike riding, snow skiing, caving, kayaking, Boy Scouts, and exploring anything outdoors was always a part of his life. Exercising his interest in music he inherited from his mother, Benjamin and his violin often got together with his musician friends “jamming”. He loved socializing with his countless friends and was often the instigator, planner and host of social events. 

Benjamin is described by his friends and those who knew him well as someone filled with compassion and caring for others. He had an innate empathic ability to feel when someone was in need. Many people have described him as being “an old soul.” He was always there to lend an ear and help his friends when they had any kind of problem. People looked to Benjamin for comfort and advice, and he never avoided helping someone in need. He was admirably without prejudice of any kind and accepted everyone equally. These types of personal qualities were the type of thing that he considered the true treasures of life. He intentionally instilled these qualities in himself, continually seeking to improve on them. He went Above and Beyond in every aspect of his life for the ultimate purpose of serving his fellow man. His personal mission for his life was to make the world a better place for mankind, and often he did this one person at a time, but he had much bigger plans for the future in this regard. 

Benjamin was considered a genius by many, but his genius was the result of an immense amount of hard work, effort and dedication. Those that knew him well didn’t necessarily identify him as a “genius”, but more commonly as someone of compassion, empathy with an unselfish willingness to help others in need. Above all, Benjamin was a genuinely good person. He was the kind of person the world needs. The loss of Benjamin not only impacted his family, friends and those that knew him, but perhaps thousands or even millions of people who may have benefited from the brilliance of this young man.


Following the murder of Benjamin "Lloyd" Cloer, his father Steve created this collage portraying various times in his son's life

Friends of ours had the idea and they proceeded with the process of creating an endowment at UGA for our son at a time when we could hardly function much less understand what was going on. Thanks to these friends the “Benjamin Lloyd Cloer Endowment for AI” is a reality at UGA. Because of all who have made a tax deductible donation or will donate there will be a “Benjamin Lloyd Cloer Endowment for AI” as long as UGA exists! Our indescribable loss and pain is somewhat lessened knowing that a legacy in our son’s name will eternally endure. If there is something that Benjamin loved more than learning, it would be helping others to learn. Benjamin would be happy knowing that an endowment in his name will continue on providing for others what it was he loved to do. The endowment will be offering dedicated students who are studying artificial intelligence and in financial need grants beginning the spring 2020 semester. You can view the endowment page at the following link: 

https://gail.uga.edu/as/benjamin-lloyd-cloer-ai-endowment

Benjamin would have completed the coursework for his master’s degree in December, 2019. He was in the process of writing his thesis on computational neuroscience, which was the final remaining program requirement necessary to earn his MSAI. He was on track to receive his degree by the end of the 2020 academic year. Benjamin worked so very hard toward this achievement since his first year in high school. UGA decided to honor Benjamin’s hard work and award him his degree at the December 2020 graduation ceremony. It will ne the proudest day of our life, and one of the saddest.

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