Stryker

STRYKER

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The chief suspect in the disappearance and murder of Hannah Bender, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Forsyth County, has been arrested.

Austin Stryker was arrested on a murder warrant in Pittsburgh, Pa., after turning himself in to authorities Oct. 2.

Hannah Bender’s family was notified by authorities in Lumpkin County where she was last seen. 

“I reached out to the family this morning around 6:30 a.m., the mother of Miss Bender, and made her aware that Stryker was in custody,” Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said. “Now, she’s on the path of preparing the funeral of her daughter.”

Bender, 21, was reported missing in mid-September by her mother.

“In my 31 years of law enforcement, we have had cases of this nature, but not necessarily where there were this many people involved,” Jarrard said. “At this point in time, I’d have to say, in my career, it would be the case that has the most people involved in it.”

Jarrard credited numerous outside agencies who worked together for a common goal.

“It was a joint effort between Lumpkin, Dawson, Forsyth, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, and some other task force was involved also from other agencies,” Jarrard said. “So it was a great rally of teamwork with all the law enforcement to have the success that we’ve had to be able to put this together as fast as we have.”

Authorities are in the process of having Stryker, 22, of Dawsonville, extradited to Georgia. 

Bender’s body was found in a shallow grave in a partially wooded pasture area along Parks Road in Forsyth County Sept. 24.  

Five others were arrested in Georgia in connection with the case. 

Bailey Williams, 21, was arrested in Lumpkin County Oct. 1 on charges of tampering with evidence. 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Stryker’s fiancee Elizabeth Brooke Donaldson in Dawson County, charging her with tampering with evidence and concealing the death of another. 

Dawson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jerry Harper, 78, who had been considered “a person of interest” in the case. He is charged with concealment of a body and tampering with evidence.

Isaac Huff, 18, and Dylan Patrick Reid, 19, were arrested Oct. 1 by Dawson County authorities; they are charged with concealing the death of another.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation continues working the case.

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