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Two more arrested in Hannah Bender murder investigation
police emergency

Four arrests have been made in a murder investigation spanning multiple counties.

On Monday shortly after midnight, Isaac Huff and Dylan Reid were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations in Dawson County in connection to the murder of 21-year-old Hannah Bender.

They are currently being held in the Dawson County Detention Center along with Jerry Harper and Elizabeth Donaldson, two other persons of interests in the case.

Case timeline (scrollable)
  • Sept. 25, 2019: Authorities discover Lumpkin County 21-year-old Hannah Bender's body.
  • Sept. 26, 2019: Community remembers Hannah Bender.
  • Sept. 27, 2019: Jerry Harper is arrested as a person of interest in the Dawson County murder case.
  • Oct. 1, 2019: Isaac Huff, Dylan Reid, Bailey Williams and Elizabeth Donaldson have been arrested.
  • Oct. 2, 2019: Austin Stryker is arrested in Pennsylvania.
  • Apr. 7, 2021: Huff and Reid plead guilty to their charges tied to the murder cover-up.
  • Oct. 8, 2021: Evidence of Stryker's alleged motive is allowed into his upcoming criminal trial.
  • Oct. 29, 2021: Harper pleads guilty on three charges tied to Bender's murder. His plea was made public after Stryker's trial.
  • Nov. 1, 2021: Stryker goes to trial for his Dawson County murder charges.
  • Nov. 4, 2021: A possible mistrial looms after jurors for Stryker's trial are dismissed due to COVID-19 exposure concerns.
  • Nov. 10, 2021: Stryker is convicted on all 24 counts tied to the murder of Hannah Bender.
  • Dec. 14, 2021: Harper is sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the murder and cover-up.
  • Dec. 15, 2021: Stryker is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for his role in Bender's murder.
  • April 2022: Harper is indicted in Forsyth County for his role in the murder cover-up there.
  • June 2022: Huff and Williams are formally accused along with Stryker in a 2019 Lumpkin County armed robbery that's been linked to the motive for Hannah Bender's 2019 murder in Dawson County.
  • July 29, 2022: Stryker's wife, Elizabeth Donaldson, pleads guilty to charges for her role in the murder cover-up.
  • Feb. 8, 2023: Williams pleads guilty as a first offender for her role in the Lumpkin County robbery case tied to Bender's murder.
  • March 14, 2023: After his lawyers asked for a new trial, the judge for Stryker's murder case reserves a final ruling to review concerns about defense arguments allowed during the 2021 trial.
  • May 18, 2023: Huff pleads guilty in the Lumpkin County robbery case. The prosecution there decides not to continue proceedings against Stryker, who is already serving a life sentence for the Dawson County murder.
  • June 30, 2023: Stryker's motion for a new trial in the Dawson County murder case is denied.
  • July 12, 2023: Stryker seeks to have his criminal case appealed to the state's highest court, the Georgia Supreme Court.

According to Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson, the two have now been charged and are being held without bond. 

Huff, of Dawsonville, has been charged with one felony count of Concealing Death for hindering the discovery of her body by allowing another to keep Bender’s body on his property. 

Reid, also of Dawsonville, has been charged with one felony count of Tampering with Evidence. He is accused of knowingly concealing evidence in reference to the murder of Hannah Bender.

Reid is also charged with one felony count of Concealing Death when he hindered the discovery of her body by assisting another with placing Bender’s body on the property.

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard confirmed on Sept. 27 that Harper was apprehended by Dawson County deputies Friday afternoon.

According to Jarrard, 78 year-old Harper was arrested in Dawson County after a motorist spotted a white Ford Explorer matching the description of the BOLO issued by the GBI.

Dawson County deputies conducted a traffic stop and took Harper into custody.

The GBI stated on Thursday, Sept. 26 that the agency had taken warrants out for Harper for “concealment of a dead body” and “tampering with evidence” in Forsyth County. The charges stem from the investigation of Bender’s death.

Investigators from Dawson County and Lumpkin County sheriff’s offices and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations conducted interviews with Harper as a person of interest in the murder of Hannah Bender.

Dawson County authorities could not be reached for comment on how Harper was located or what he has been charged with.

Bender was reported missing in Lumpkin County by her mother on Sept. 19 and shortly after bloody clothing was found in nearby Dawson County.

During a press conference in Dahlonega on Sept. 25, Jarrard confirmed remains believed to be Bender’s were recovered from a shallow grave in north Forsyth County.

A full identification will be made by a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy.

It is believed that Bender was killed at a campsite in Lumpkin County, according to Jarrard.

Striker
Following Hannah 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.

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.

Stryker, who has been accused of murdering Bender, is still on the run from authorities. On Thursday the U.S. Marshals Service announced that it would be offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to Stryker’s capture.

Authorities say that Stryker and Harper were last seen in Clay County, West Virginia driving a white 2000 Ford Explorer with Georgia tag number PZH4402, and Stryker may have altered his appearance to avoid detection.

Stryker is considered armed and dangerous, according to authorities.

Stryker’s wife, Elizabeth Donaldson, 21, has been arrested by the GBI in connection with Bender’s death, Jarrard said. She was charged with tampering with evidence and is being held in the Dawson County Detention Center.

Anyone with information in this case has been asked to contact the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office by calling 706-974-6824. 

Forsyth County News reporter Alex Popp contributed to this report.

 

 

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