Officials find body of Lumpkin County woman; suspect’s fiancee arrested

Hannah Bender

Hannah Bender

Lumpkin County authorities have found the body of a woman who had been missing for nearly a week and have made an arrest in the case, according to Channel 2 Action News.

The body of Hannah Bender, 21, was recovered by the Lumpkin sheriff’s office Wednesday in Forsyth County, the news station reported.

Officials said Bender was found buried in a shallow grave off Parks Road near Ga. 306. A report from a tipster led investigators to the ravine where her body was discovered, Channel 2 reported.

Bender’s mother, Carol Gilreath, previously said the last time she heard from her daughter was in a text message Sept. 14. She reported her daughter missing five days later, the news station reported.

RELATED: Man sought in disappearance of 21-year-old woman in Lumpkin County

Soon after that, investigators found bloody clothing.

The sheriff’s office on Saturday obtained warrants accusing Austin Todd Stryker of murder in connection with the case even though Bender’s body had not been discovered.

Lumpkin Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said there were crime scenes associated with the case in Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth counties. He would not say where the clothes were discovered. Jarrad told Channel 2 he believes the murder was committed in Lumpkin County.

Austin Todd Stryker

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

It is not clear how investigators connected Stryker to the case. Officials thought he may have been driving a black Ford Ranger with front-end damage, but that vehicle was located, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday morning in an emailed statement.

Jerry Harper

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Stryker’s fiancee, Elizabeth Donaldson, was arrested in Dawson County in connection with Bender’s disappearance and subsequent death, Channel 2 reported. Her charges are not known.

Authorities are also looking for 78-year-old Jerry Harper, who is suspected of murder, according to Channel 2. Stryker and Harper may be driving a white 2008 Ford Explorer, Channel 2 reported.

Sheriff’s officials are working with the GBI to investigate the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact sheriff’s office investigators at 706-974-6824.

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