Four men indicted in connection with the death of Lumpkin County woman Hannah Bender have pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, aggravated assault and battery, concealing the death of another and violation of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
On March 12, Austin Todd Stryker, 24, Isaac Thomas Huff, 18, Dylan Patrick Reid, 19, and Jerry Kyle Harper, 78, appeared in the courtroom of Dawson County Superior Court Judge Kathlene F. Gosselin for a formal indictment and entered not guilty pleas.
All four men were indicted by the superior court in December and charged with various crimes relating to the 21-year-old woman's death.
According to the indictment Stryker, Huff and Reid are accused of shooting and stabbing Bender and concealing her body on Sept. 15, 2019.
Harper has been accused of harboring Stryker following the murder.
Shortly after Bender was reported missing on Sept. 19, bloody clothing was found in nearby Dawson County and her body was discovered buried in a shallow grave in north Forsyth County.
Sources close to the investigation claim that they now believe the murder may have happened in Dawson County, before the suspects disposed of the body in Forsyth County and planted evidence at a campsite in Lumpkin County in an attempt to throw off investigators.
The discovery of Bender’s body sparked a statewide manhunt for Stryker, who after several weeks on the run surrendered to authorities in Pittsburgh on Oct. 1.
Six individuals, including Huff, Reid and Harper were arrested by authorities in Lumpkin and Dawson counties during the investigation.
Stryker, Huff and Reid face felony charges of murder, aggravated assault and battery, and concealing the death of another.
Stryker has also been charged with one count of malice murder.
Harper has been charged with felony counts of hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal and theft by receiving stolen property.
All four men have also been charged for allegedly participating in “criminal gang activity” and violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Huff, Harper and Reid are being held in the Dawson County Detention Center under no bond.
Stryker is being held by the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Two other individuals, Elizabeth Donaldson, 21 and Bailey Diane Williams, 21, were arrested and charged with tampering with evidence following the discovery of Bender’s body.