Grand jury hands down indictment in Amanda Strous slaying

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • Amanda Strous was a field hockey standout who graduated from Dallastown Area HS and Shippensburg University.
  • Court documents indicate Strous and her accused killer, Mathew Benner, lived in the same complex.

A North Carolina man has been indicted in the June 18 homicide of Dallastown Area High School graduate Amanda Strous.

A grand jury in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on Monday indicted Mathew Benner, 28, on charges of first-degree arson and murder, according to Charles Keller Jr., community access and outreach administrator for the trial court administrator's office in Mecklenburg County.

Dallastown Area High School graduate Amanda Strous was killed June 18, 2016, in her North Carolina apartment, police said.
(Photo from Facebook)

Benner has been in Mecklenburg County's central jail without bail since July 4, after being extradited to North Carolina from Nye County, Nevada, officials have said.

Benner has a bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday, and his probable-cause hearing is set for July 25, according to Keller.  Probable-cause hearings in North Carolina are akin to Pennsylvania's preliminary hearings, where a judge hears findings and determines if enough evidence exists for a defendant to stand trial.

Strous and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Benner lived in the same apartment complex on Toscana Way in the Steele Creek area of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, according to Benner's arrest warrant.

That warrant states Benner "willfully and feloniously" and with "malice aforethought" murdered Strous and torched her apartment.

HEISER: Amanda Strous was much more than a star athlete

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."

Mathew Benner, taken after he was returned to North Carolina from Nevada on July 4, 2016, to face a murder charge in the slaying of Amanda Strous.

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, then graduated from Shippensburg University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in art. She graduated from Shippensburg in 2015 with a master's degree in mental-health counseling, according to a news release on the university's website.

She played field hockey at Shippensburg from 2007 to 2010. 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 university's website.

Hundreds turn out to remember Dallastown grad murdered in N.C.

Strous and fiance Cory McCleaf planned to marry July 30, according to her loved ones.

Tracked down: Nye County sheriff's deputies in Nevada were able to arrest 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.

The family of homicide victim Amanda Strous held a candlelight vigil on Monday, June 20, 2016, to honor her memory.
(Dawn J. Sagert photo)

One of Strous' friends started the Amanda Strous Memorial Fund on, and money raised will be used for funeral expenses, family counseling and other necessities, according to the page.

As of Tuesday, the site has raised about $40,500, donated by 647 people.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.