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Suspect in Amanda Strous murder refused to allow people into her burning apartment

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mathew T. Benner, 28, refused to allow people to enter the burning apartment where York native Amanda Strous was murdered, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Warrant documents reveal that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detective B.G. Fitch, and other detectives, interviewed multiple witnesses at 12112 Toscana Way, who said they heard a woman screaming the afternoon of Saturday, June 18. Following the screams, a fire alarm was set off.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, who responded to a call at 5:36 p.m., assisted Charlotte Fire Department firefighters. Once inside the residence, firefighters were able to locate Strous.

Strous, 27, was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m.

Residents, exiting in response to the fire alarm, said they witnessed Benner on his phone. They told police that Benner, who stands 6’3″ and is 215 pounds, was “sweating profusely and physically refusing to allow anyone to enter the burning apartment.” He told them, witnesses said, that there was someone injured inside the apartment.

He then ran downstairs to his apartment at 208, which was directly below Strous’ 308 unit. A few minutes later, he was seen running down the stairs to the Enclave at Rivergate parking lot, and he fled the scene in a car. Observers noted, the warrant states, that when Benner fled the scene, it was visible that he had “blood” on his left leg.

A witness, who had a personal relationship with Benner for five years, told detectives that Benner confessed to murdering Strous. After he told his friend, Benner fled to Nevada. He was arrested in Nye County, and police extradited him back to Charlotte on July 4.

While on scene, police were able to observe the residence outside and confirmed that there was fire damage inside the apartment. Detectives executed a search warrant on the residence and were able to locate evidence that a fire had been intentionally set. Damages to the apartment is estimated at $50,000.

Strous had been living in Charlotte, NC to be closer to her fiance. They were to be married on July 30. She was employed as a counselor at Central Piedmont Community College.

Strous, a Dallastown Area High School graduate, began her field hockey career there. She went on to play field hockey at Shippensburg University. She coached field hockey at various colleges, and camps along the east coast. She was also an assistant field hockey coach at Hamilton College in New York.