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

Lumpkin County officials said Austin Todd Stryker, who faces a murder charge in connection with a woman's disappearance, could be driving a black Ford Ranger.
Lumpkin County officials said Austin Todd Stryker, who faces a murder charge in connection with a woman's disappearance, could be driving a black Ford Ranger.

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

Murder charges have been filed in the case of a 21-year-old woman reported missing in Lumpkin County, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Authorities obtained a warrant Saturday accusing Austin Todd Stryker of murder in connection with the disappearance of Hannah Bender, officials said. Lumpkin deputies are still trying to locate Stryker.

Hannah Bender, 21, was reported missing by her mother.
Hannah Bender, 21, was reported missing by her mother.

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office

Bender’s mother, Carol Gilreath, told Channel 2 Action News that 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.

Soon after that, investigators found bloody clothing.

“We are led to believe her life has been taken,” Lumpkin Sheriff Stacy Jarrard told Channel 2.

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.

Bender’s body has not been found.

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, Channel 2 reported. The vehicle was located, but Stryker was nowhere to be found, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday morning in an emailed statement.

Jerry Harper
Jerry Harper

Authorities are also looking for 78-year-old Jerry Harper, who is a person of interest in the case. Stryker and Harper may also be driving a white 2008 Ford Explorer, Channel 2 reported.

Sheriff’s officials are working with the GBI to investigate Bender’s disappearance.

Anyone with information is asked to contact sheriff’s office investigators at 706-974-6824.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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