René Benoit, also known as La Grenouille ("the Frog" in French), was a French national and an illegal arms dealer whom Jenny Shepard spent over a decade trying to catch as she believed that he had murdered her father, Colonel Jasper Shepard, and later developed an obsession with capturing him, even recruiting Anthony DiNozzo to go undercover and form a relationship with René's daughter, Jeanne Benoit.
Prior to Colonel Shepard's alleged suicide, La Grenouille bribed him; La Grenouille admits this to Jenny just before he was killed. La Grenouille was murdered on his yacht the night following his meeting with Director Shepard and Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the home of Director Shepard. He had met with Director Shepard to ask for protection because he no longer trusted Kort, the CIA agent he was working with.
However, Shepard was in no means about to protect the man she despised and promptly refused his offer out of spite. At the end of Bury Your Dead (episode), Benoit's body was shown floating in a canal with a single gunshot wound on his forehead.
A pressure point mark, Ziva called it a "thumb tap" was found on Jasper Shepard's hand during his autopsy. This is evidence that someone grabbed his hand so that he wouldn't move and they could shoot him in such a way to make it look like a suicide. A similar mark was found on Benoit's hand following his murder.
Jeanne told the FBI that she saw DiNozzo assassinate her father, making DiNozzo the subject of the investigation into La Grenouille's murder. During the investigation Director Shepard was suspended and Leon Vance temporarily assumed the directorship. Under interrogation by Director Shepard, Jeanne admitted she did not witness the killing.
CIA agent Trent Kort brought the investigation to a halt by claiming that the agency was responsible for La Grenouille's death in a "sanctioned" action. Gibbs was not convinced, continued investigating, and found forensic evidence suggesting that Director Shepard had been the one who had killed La Grenouille but he buried the evidence. It is proven that La Grenouille's assassin used Director Shepard's gun to kill him. Shepard, however, claimed that La Grenouille took the gun when he left her home.
While Kort confesses to murdering La Grenouille, it is further suggested that Shepard herself killed La Grenouille when Gibbs remembers that he saw La Grenouille put her gun on the table before he left.
Gibbs later examined the evidence again during the Season 5 finale episode, Judgment Day Part 1 (episode) and after glancing at the single round, discovered that it had the same marks as the shell casing found at the scene of Benoit's death, essentially confirming that it was Jenny, not Trent Kort who had killed the Frog.
- In all his appearances on the show, Armand Assante was credited as a Special Guest Star.
- Although the character, "La Grenouille" is French, Assante was born in New York City, the same as Michael Weatherly who plays Tony DiNozzo on the show.