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Previous person on interest in Hannah Bender murder now arrested, charged in case

The 21-year-old woman's body was found in a shallow grave on Wednesday.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — One of the suspects in the Hannah Bender murder investigation was arrested on the same day a second suspect was scheduled to appear in court for the first time.

Jerry Harper, 78, was arrested by Dawson County Sheriff's deputies on Sept. 27. Harper had been a person of interest in the murder of Hannah Bender, a Lumpkin County woman reported missing nearly two weeks ago. 

Harper had warrants for his arrest on tampering with evidence and concealing a dead body issued by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Sept. 26.

Austin Stryker, who is wanted for Hannah Bender's murder, is still at-large.

Before his arrest, Harper was last seen in Clay County, West Virginia, with Stryker in a white Ford Explorer.

Harper was seen at around 1:30 pm in Dawson County in the Ford that authorities were looking for, according to Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard.

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office
Jerry Harper

Police found Bender's body in a shallow grave in Forsyth County on Wednesday, days after she was reported missing. She was identified by tattoos and markings on her body, but a full confirmation will come with an autopsy.

On Wednesday, Elizabeth Donaldson, who was in a relationship with Stryker, had her first court appearance in Dawson County, on charges of tampering with evidence.

Her bond was set at $5,000.

On Thursday, US Marshals offered a $5,000 award for information that leads to the arrest of Stryker. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Credit: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office
Austin Todd Stryker

PHOTOS: Hannah Bender case

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