Authorities believe Matthew Thomas Benner, who lived in the same apartment complex in Charlotte, NC had been stalking Strous and once enquired about dating her and her friend. He is charged with first-degree arson and murder. Benner, 28, confessed to the killing after being arrested two days later near Las Vegas. Strous’ fiancé, Cory was not in Charlotte when the slaying took place.
“I just didn’t believe it. I couldn’t take it in,” said fiancé,_Cory McCleaf. “The last thing I actually got to say to her was ‘I love you, and I’ll talk to you later.’”
Strous, a star field hockey player in high school and then at Shippensburg University, was due to wed McCleaf on July 30. Friends and loved ones have been honoring Strous with the hashtag “#FlyHigh22.” She was a student counselor at Central Piedmont Community College at the time of her death.
Her heart broken dad, Eric Strous said of his daughter “She made me a better dad, a better man, a better husband,” “She was the light of my life.”
After her death, Shippensburg field hockey coach Bertie Landes described how much Strous meant to the “Ship” family.
“I can still hear her laughter and her voice,” “Her memory will live in our hearts forever. May the lessons she taught us through her passion for life guide us in the days ahead.”