By Jessica Taylor, FCN regional staff
David Chambers remembers growing up in the woods of Dahlonega with his cousin, Hannah Bender.
She loved to camp and liked to collect cool rocks she found in her outdoor adventures, but where she loved to camp most was right in her own backyard.
“She had all she needed out back,” Chambers said.
Bender was reported missing from Lumpkin County by her mother on Sept. 19. The community and law enforcement agencies in Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties searched for Bender for days, but Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard announced during a press conference on Sept. 25 that the young woman’s remains had been discovered in north Forsyth.
Chambers remembers his 21-year old cousin as funny, bright and creative mama’s girl.
“She was just a good person to be around if you needed support of any kind,” Chambers said.
He remembers the times Hannah made him laugh with their shenanigans as rambunctious kids.
He will never forget when her parents threw a party, and while dancing to the song, “Low” by Flo Rida, Hannah ripped her pants.
And while attempting to reach the top of the closet, Hannah stood on his back for a better look and caused a commotion.
“She lost her balance and fell, and we thought we almost broke her toe,” Chambers said.
But strong-headed Hannah just laughed, Chambers said.
Chambers said his cousin always wanted to make others happy so they could “live happy.”
“She worried about other people being happy before herself,” Chambers said. “If everyone else is happy then that’s when she’ll be truly happy.”
Without Hannah, Chambers said he wouldn’t be the person he is today.
“She helped me to love myself and I can never repay her for that,” Chambers said. “I thank her so much for helping me become the person I am today.”
Chambers said the discovery has been difficult for their family, but having found her has brought them some peace amidst the tragic events.
“Right now we’re just happy that we have her,” Chambers said. “We can at least put a bit of our hearts to rest knowing that we have Hannah now, that we know where she’s at.”
The family is in the process of planning a memorial service, but a date has not been set at this time, Chambers said.
“Thanks everyone for the prayers and sharing everything to keep everyone on the lookout, and we couldn’t really do it without the community,” Chambers said. “We thank the community so much and we are really appreciative.”
Hannah Bender’s father Gary made a plea to the public in a Facebook post: “I love Hannah just like all of you. I believe she’s watching us and she knows just how much we really cared for her and I’m going make another plea to everybody again. Please, if you know something that will help bring these animals to justice, call the sheriff. Don’t post it on [social media]. The last thing I want to do is to have her memory tarnished in any way.”
Anyone with information in this case has been asked to contact the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office by calling 706-974-6824.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family at bit.ly/2nw4T9n.