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Two court hearings set for Amanda Strous' alleged killer
A North Carolina man accused of murdering a Dallastown Area High School graduate who was about to be married has two upcoming court proceedings, according to officials.
Mathew Benner, 28, remains in the Mecklenburg County jail without bail at this point but has a bond hearing scheduled for July 13, according to a court administrator there.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound man is accused of first-degree murder and arson in the June 18 death of Amanda Strous.
His probable-cause hearing is set for July 25, the court administrator said. Probable-cause hearings in North Carolina are akin to Pennsylvania's preliminary hearings, where a judge hears evidence and determines if enough evidence exists for a defendant to stand trial.
Benner was admitted to Mecklenburg County's central jail on July 4, according to prison records. He was extradited from Nye County, Nevada, where he fled after the homicide, according to police.
His arrest warrant, obtained by The York Dispatch, indicates he and Strous lived in the same apartment building on Toscana Way in the Steele Creek area of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The warrant states Benner "willfully and feloniously" and with "malice aforethought" murdered Strous and torched her apartment.
The background: Strous, 27, was pulled from her burning apartment about 5:40 p.m.June 18 and rushed to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, officials said.
She was the daughter of Eric and Crystal Strous of York Township.
Eric Strous has told The York Dispatch that his daughter was an active young woman with "a laundry list" of accomplishments in her short life.
"Amanda was a very special person," he has said. "She was an incredible athlete, but she also was a great academic individual."
She worked as a counselor at Central Piedmont Community College's Harper campus for about six months, according to college spokeswoman Kathy Scott Rummage.
Strous graduated from Dallastown Area High School in 2007 and graduated from Shippensburg University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in art. She then graduated from Shippensburg in 2015 with a master's degree in mental-health counseling, according to a news release on the university's website.
Athletic standout: She played field hockey at Shippensburg from 2007 to 2010. Strous was a forward who played in 79 games for the Raiders, scoring 24 goals and making 13 assists for 61 career points, the website states.
As a senior in 2010, a season in which Shippensburg competed in the NCAA Division II National Championship game, Strous served as a team captain and had a career year, totaling 11 goals and five assists, according to the website.
After spending her first year after graduation as an assistant coach at Hamilton College in New York, Strous returned to Shippensburg in the fall of 2012 to begin her three-year run as an assistant field hockey coach while studying for her master's degree. In 2013, she was the primary assistant on the Shippensburg squad that won its first-ever NCAA Division II National Championship, university officials said.
Strous and fiance Cory McCleaf were engaged and planned to marry July 30, according to her loved ones.
Tracked down: Nye County deputies in Nevada were able to find Benner because Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police were tracking him using his cellphone's GPS signal, according to police.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have declined to discuss how Strous was killed, and Benner's arrest warrant doesn't provide details. They also have declined to address reports from North Carolina media agencies that Benner was seen near Strous' apartment with bloody hands around the time of the fire.
One of Strous' friends started the Amanda Strous Memorial Fund on GoFundMe.com, and money raised will be used for funeral expenses, family counseling and other necessities, according to the page.
As of Thursday, the site had raised more than $40,000, donated by more than 640 people.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.