Wanted for allegedly murdering 21-year-old Hannah Bender, Austin Todd Stryker turned himself in to police Wednesday

By KC Baker
October 02, 2019 03:34 PM
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Hannah Bender
Credit: Facebook

Six people have now been arrested in connection with the death of a young Georgia woman believed to have been killed at a remote campsite after the man suspected of murdering her surrendered to authorities Wednesday.

Austin Todd Stryker, 22, of Dawson County, Georgia, turned himself in to authorities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced in a statement on Twitter.

Wanted in the killing of Hannah Bender, 21, of Dahlonega in Lumpkin County, Stryker was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after her body was found in a shallow grave in Forsyth County more than ten days after she vanished.

Austin Todd Stryker
Austin Stryker of Georgia
| Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

Reported missing on Sept. 19, Bender was last heard from on Sept. 14, when she sent her mother a text at 3:14 a.m. saying, “I fell asleep but had a nightmare.”

Her body was found on Sept. 25 in a shallow grave in Forsyth County, more than 45 miles away, Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said at a press conference that day, local station WSB-TV reports.

He said authorities believe she was killed at a remote campsite in a forest in Lumpkin County.

It is unclear how or why she was killed – or how she ended up at the campsite.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Stryker remained in police custody in Pennsylvania, the GBI wrote on Twitter.

“Efforts to return him to GA are in progress,” the message read.

It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He has not yet entered a plea.

He is the sixth person to be arrested in connection with Bender’s murder.

Shortly after Bender’s body was found, Stryker’s wife, Elizabeth Donaldson, 21, who has also been described as his fiancée, was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence, Jarrard said.

Elizabeth Donaldson
Elizabeth Donaldson, 21, of Georgia
| Credit: Dawson County Sheriff's Office

Jerry Harper, the 78-year-old man who was on the run with Stryker for a short time after Bender’s body was found was taken into custody on Friday and charged with concealing a dead body and tampering with evidence.

Then, on Monday, two others were arrested in connection with Bender’s death. Dylan Patrick Reid, age 19, of Dawsonville in Dawson County was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence and concealing the death, the GBI said on Twitter.

Dylan Reid
Dylan Reid
| Credit: Dawson County Sheriff's Office

Isaac Huff, age 18, of Dawsonville in Dawson County was arrested and charged with concealing the death.

Isaac Huff
Isaac Huff
| Credit: Dawson County Sheriff's Office

On Wednesday, authorities arrested a sixth suspect: Bailey Williams, 21, who is charged with felony tampering with evidence in the death, the sheriff told WSB.

While the exact nature of the relationship between Bender and Stryker is unclear right now, the two did know each other, Jarrard confirmed at the Sept. 25 press conference.

Authorities do not believe she was taken against her will, he said. “We don’t see it as being random,” he said.

“Testimonial interviews” from several people led authorities to the spot where her body was buried, Jarrard said.

It is unclear whether the suspects have retained lawyers who can speak for them or if they have entered pleas.