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Two others accused in alleged armed robbery linked to Hannah Bender murder case
Jerry Harper pleads to Forsyth charges related to killing cover-up
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Note: Kelly Whitmire contributed Forsyth-specific background information for this story. 

Two people charged in Hannah Bender’s 2019 murder case were recently accused of being parties to an alleged armed robbery in which Austin Todd Stryker, 25, was also implicated. 

Bailey Diane Williams, 23, and Isaac Thomas Huff, 20, have been named as co-defendants in Stryker’s pending armed robbery case in Lumpkin County, according to a June 2022 indictment. 

Lumpkin County is part of the Enotah Judicial Circuit, which also includes Town, Union and White counties. 

Huff and Williams were allegedly present while Stryker allegedly committed armed robbery at the South Chestatee Street Dollar General on July 7, 2019.  

Motive and murder narrative

Huff and Dylan Reid, 22, testified about their, Stryker’s and others’ involvement in a small gang called “THIS” during their joint plea and sentencing hearing and Stryker’s trial. 

Before Stryker’s November 2021 trial in Dawson County, prosecutors were successful in getting evidence introduced describing that Stryker’s motive to kill Bender was tied to his belief that she might go to police about the alleged robbery.

During his own testimony at Stryker’s trial, Huff said that the gang members allegedly committed armed robbery at Dollar Generals in Dawsonville and Dahlonega during summer 2019. 

Currently, charges have only been filed in Lumpkin County for that alleged armed robbery.

Bender was killed during the early morning on Sept. 15, 2019, while riding in a Mazda pickup truck with Stryker and Huff. As the truck neared the Sweetwater Juno Road area of Dawson County, Stryker shot Bender in the head without warning, according to Huff’s testimony at his and co-defendant Dylan Patrick Reid’s April 2021 plea hearing

Testimony from Stryker and a GBI medical examiner who testified at his trial suggested that the gunshot may not have been immediately fatal. After shooting her, Stryker reportedly stabbed Bender at least 32 times. She was later buried in a shallow grave in North Forsyth County, where her remains were found on Sept. 25, 2019.

At the end of the trial, Stryker was found guilty of killing Bender by shooting and stabbing her and convicted on all 24 of his charges tied to her death. Then in December, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Huff received a sentence of 12 years in prison and 18 years on probation for his role in covering up Bender’s murder. Reid got 20 years with 15 years on probation for the additional culpability of tampering with evidence. 

Previously, authorities arrested Bailey Williams in October 2019 and charged her with tampering with evidence. She allegedly helped Stryker dispose of Bender’s belongings on Sept. 15, 2019, near a campground off of Nimblewill Gap Road in Lumpkin County. 

Harper sentencings

 At the end of October, Jerry Harper, 81, pleaded guilty in Dawson County to multiple charges for helping Stryker evade police and approving of Bender’s murder. 

He admitted to racketeering activity involving a homicide, a violation of Georgia’s street gang law; hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal and a connected gang violation. Prosecutors agreed to not prosecute Harper on charges of theft of a vehicle and a connected street gang violation.

Then in December, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the racketeering charge and five years for the hindering count, to be run concurrently with the previous sentence. He received 10 years of probation for the other gang violation. This last count will follow the prison time consecutively. 

In April, Harper was indicted in Forsyth County on one count each of concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence of Bender’s murder.

Per the indictment, Harper concealed Bender’s death by burying her body and concealing a Mazda truck to prevent Stryker’s arrest. Details about Harper’s participation were recounted by multiple witnesses and prosecutors during his sentencing and at Stryker’s trial. 

The lead investigator for Bender’s murder case, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Kristin Perry, recounted that Harper’s statements only had the appearance of initial cooperation, given how his words conflicted with other information and how he initially withheld some details.

During interviews, Harper told GBI agents about seeing Bender’s body in the toolbox Stryker had brought over to the property where his camper was. So, Perry said she thought Harper knew more than what he was initially saying.

According to other witnesses, Harper saw the bloody Mazda truck where Bender was killed, told Stryker to clean it up and coordinated taking the vehicle to a friend’s property to sell. At that same property, Harper was said to be present while Stryker buried Bender’s remains.

“He had no direct knowledge...yes, it’s horrible for a decent person to do. He should've known better,” said attorney John Warr of Harper, “but he chose to help them after the fact [of the murder].”

This May, Harper pleaded guilty to the two charges and was sentenced to 10 years on each count, for a collective 20 years to be served concurrent with the previous case, according to Forsyth County Superior Court records. 

The other remaining defendant is the wife of Stryker, Elizabeth Brooke Donaldson, 24. She has been arrested and charged with concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence. 

She allegedly helped move Bender’s remains to a Blacks Mill Road residence on Sept. 16, 2019, and strip interior parts from the truck where Bender was murdered. 

Donaldson is expected to have more court dates in Dawson County later this year.

 DCN and its affiliates will continue reporting on the remaining defendants’ cases as more details become available.