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Suspect in Bender murder case returned to Dawson County
Austin Stryker Dawson County mugshot
Austin Todd Stryker

Nearly five months after surrendering to authorities in Pittsburg, Pa., Austin Todd Stryker, a prime suspect in the murder investigation of Lumpkin County woman Hannah Bender has been returned to face charges in Dawson County. 

Stryker, 22, of Dawsonville was taken into custody by Dawson County Sheriff's Office deputies on Saturday, Feb. 29, according to recent arrest reports. 

According to a Dawson County indictment, Stryker and several other individuals are accused of shooting and stabbing 21-year-old Hannah Bender on Sept. 15, 2019, and concealing her body in north Forsyth County. 

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.

Over the last several months, Stryker has been held in Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office custody on charges connected to an armed robbery at a Lumpkin County Dollar General which took place in July.

Stryker has been indicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and battery, concealing the death of another, and violation of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. 

Stryker and three other alleged co-conspirators are scheduled to appear for an arraignment March 12 in the Dawson County Superior Court.