Authorities say that a body believed to be that of 21-year-old Hannah Bender has been recovered in north Forsyth County.
At a press conference held Wednesday afternoon, Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard announced that the body was discovered early in the morning buried in a shallow grave off Parks Road in north Forsyth. Markings and tattoos lead investigators to believe the body is Bender, Jarrard said, but a full identification will be made by a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy.
Bender was reported missing in Lumpkin County by her mother on Sept. 19 and shortly after bloody clothing was found in nearby Dawson County.
Following Bender’s disappearance, the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office issued murder warrants for Austin Todd Stryker, who is considered a prime suspect in the case.
Jarrard said that “testimonial interviews” led them to the body and a black Mazda truck, which was found Tuesday, Sept. 24 at a property adjacent to the body on Parks Road in north Forsyth.
It is believed that Bender was murdered at a campsite in Lumpkin County, according to Jarrard. The search for her body has involved law enforcement authorities from multiple agencies. Jarrard said they are actively processing crime scenes in Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth counties.
Jarrard said that Stryker is still on the run from authorities and should be considered armed and dangerous. He is being sought by multiple law enforcement agencies including the United States Marshals Service, GBI and other state agencies.
Stryker’s wife, Elizabeth Donaldson, 21, has been arrested by the GBI in connection with Bender’s death, Jarrard said, and charges are pending. She is currently being held in the Dawson County Detention Center.
According to Jarrard, a previously named person of interest, Jerry Harper, 78, is still wanted for questioning.
More arrests could be coming according to Jarrard.
Anyone with information in this case has been asked to contact the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office by calling 706-974-6824.