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Tentative trial date set for case of Hannah Bender’s kidnapping and murder
Bender case mugs web
From left, Austin Stryker, Isaac Huff, Dylan Reid, Jerry Harper.

A tentative trial date of Nov. 1, 2021 has been set for the two North Georgia men at the center of a brutal murder case. 

Austin Todd Stryker, 24, of Dawson County and Jerry Nesbit Harper, 79, of Forsyth County, have both been charged in connection with the shooting and stabbing death of 21-year-old Lumpkin County woman Hannah Bender, whose body was discovered buried in north Forsyth in 2019. 

Stryker and Harper, along with Isaac Thomas Huff, 19, and Dylan Patrick Reid, 21, both of Dawson County, initially entered not guilty pleas to all charges laid against them. 

But in a hearing held in April, Huff and Reid pleaded guilty to reduced charges as part of an agreement with the state, receiving 12- and 15-year prison sentences respectively for giving sworn testimony about how Bender’s murder was carried out. 

Both men confessed that they had heard Stryker say many times that he intended to kill Bender, and believed that Stryker would carry out the murder, but could give no exact motive for why. 

Stryker, Harper, Huff and Reid, along with several other individuals not included in this case were members of a small criminal gang known only as “THIS,” which reportedly participated in low-level drug crimes and armed robberies, according to testimony. 

The date was the only thing determined at the status conference on Tuesday, Aug. 31. The Dawson County News will be following this case and will provide updates.