DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — A Dawson County grand jury has indicted four suspects charged in connection with the murder of a 21-year-old woman whose body was discovered in a shallow grave.
Hannah Bender of Dahlonega was reported missing by her mother in September after failing to answer text messages and telephone calls for five days, authorities said.
Before her body was found in a Forsyth County ravine, detectives took out warrants against Austin Todd Stryker, charging him with the woman’s murder.
“We are led to believe her life has been taken,” Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said after detectives discovered Bender’s bloody clothing.
According to investigators, there were crime scenes associated with the case in Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth counties.
Authorities have said little about how Stryker knew Bender or what led to the woman’s death, but an indictment handed down Wednesday against four of the people charged in her disappearance indicate she was stabbed and shot Sept. 15.
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Stryker was indicted on charges of malice murder, three counts of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence, court records show.
Dylan Patrick Reid, 19, and Isaac Huff, 18, both of Dawsonville, are accused of taking part in the crime and helping conceal her death. They were indicted on three counts of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated battery and concealing the death of another, court records show.
A fourth suspect, 78-year-old Jerry Harper, was indicted on one count each of violating Georgia’s street gang law and hindering the apprehension of a criminal, records show. According to his indictment, Harper helped hide Stryker days after Bender’s death while he was the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
Stryker’s fiancee, 21-year-old Elizabeth Brooke Donaldson, was also arrested in the case after allegedly tampering with evidence, according to Dawson County jail records. A sixth suspect, 21-year-old Bailey Williams, is charged with tampering with evidence as well, authorities said.
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