Authorities say that Austin Todd Stryker, the man who is considered a prime suspect in the recent murder of a Lumpkin County woman, has been taken into custody.
After several weeks spent on the run from multiple law enforcement agencies, Stryker turned himself in to authorities in Pittsburg, authorities reported on Wednesday morning.
"Efforts to return him to [Georgia] are in progress," the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said via Twitter.
Stryker is accused of killing Hannah Bender, a 21-year-old woman from Dahlonega, whose body was discovered in a shallow grave off Parks Road in north Forsyth last Wednesday.
Bender was reported missing in Lumpkin County by her mother on Sept. 19 and shortly after bloody clothing was found in nearby Dawson County.
At a press conference held last week, Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said that authorities believe that Bender was killed at a campsite in Lumpkin County, but the search for her body involved law enforcement authorities from multiple agencies and crime scenes in Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth counties.
Six arrests have been made during the investigation.
Stryker’s wife, Elizabeth Donaldson, 21, was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 25 — the day law enforcement found Bender’s body — and charged with tampering with evidence.
Jerry Harper, 78, was arrested Sept. 27 in Dawson County and charged with theft by receiving stolen property and driving while license suspended or revoked, but the GBI previously stated it had taken warrants out for Harper for “concealment of dead body” and “tampering with evidence” in Forsyth County.
Then, on Monday, Sept. 30, Dawson County residents Isaac Huff, 18, and Dylan Reid, 19, were arrested in Dawson by the GBI.
Huff has been charged with one felony count for concealing death and is accused of allowing another to keep Bender’s body on his property.
Reid has been charged with felony counts of tampering with evidence and concealing death. He is accused of knowingly concealing evidence connected to Bender’s murder, concealing Bender’s death and hindering the discovery of her body.
On Tuesday, a sixth suspect, Bailey Diane Williams, 21, of Lumpkin County was arrested in Lumpkin County in connection with the case. Williams has been charged with tampering with evidence.
Authorities would not comment on any of the suspects’ relationships to Bender or each other, but according to Jarrard, more arrests are possible as the investigation continues.
Meanwhile, Stryker had been on the run and was considered armed and dangerous. The U.S. Marshals Service had put out a $5,000 reward for information about Stryker’s whereabouts.
On Wednesday, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson told the Dawson County News that officials from Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties and the GBI met in Hall County the previous day to discuss the case and where the case would be centered.
Johnson said that based on new evidence that has been uncovered, there is a possibility that the case could go to court in Dawson County.
“I don’t think
anything’s been absolutely made finalized yet, but it looks like this is going
to be a Dawson County case,” Johnson said
Jurisdiction on the case has not been confirmed by the District Attorney's Office at this time.
Dawson County News reporter Jessica Taylor contributed to this report.