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Tentative trial date set for 2 men in case of Hannah Bender’s kidnapping and murder
Austin Todd Stryker
Austin Todd Stryker

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

Jerry Harper
Jerry Harper, 78, was also indicted, although his indictment does not include a murder or aggravated assault charge.
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 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 of trial 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.

 This story originally published in the Dawson County News.

Dylan Patrick Reid
Dylan Patrick Reid, left, and Isaac Thomas Huff, two of five people charged by north Georgia law enforcement officials following the disappearance and murder investigation of 21-year-old Hannah Bender, appeared in court on Wednesday, April 7, pleading guilty to aggravated assault, violation of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, concealing a death and tampering with evidence before Superior Court Judge Kathlene F. Gosselin. - photo by Ben Hendren