Neighbor from hell:  Mathew Thomas Benner, stalker, arsonist, strangled bride-to-be Amanda Strous a month to her wedding day, inside her North Carolina apartment, before setting it on fire

Amanda Strous (left) Mathew Thomas Benner (right)

Stalker, killer, arsonist neighbour Mathew Thomas Benner murdered bride-to-be a month to her wedding day

 

A 27-year-old woman happily planning for her wedding a month going on was strangled in her North Carolina home before it was set on fire. The autospy also revealed that Amanda Strous suffered major burns and blunt force trauma.   She was was found wearing only bathing suit bottoms and her mouth had been taped shut during the brutal attack. A rape kit was administered.

Amanda Strous4
Amanda Strous strangled inside her North Carolina apartment, which was then set on fire by a neighbour who lived in the apartment upstairs

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.

Matthew Thomas Benner2
Matthew Thomas Benner was charged with first-degree arson and murder, facing life or possible death sentence

“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.”

Strous and Cory McCleaf2
Amanda Strous and fiancé, Cory McCleaf, had set their wedding date for July 30, a month after the murder

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.”

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