Early Saturday evening, just weeks before her July 30 wedding, college counselor Amanda Strous was pulled from her fiery apartment in Charlotte, NC. The fire, says Strous' dad, was a cover-up to hide her murder. Police say that a man who lives in the same complex confessed to the killing the 27-year-old when they found him near Las Vegas two days later. Mathew Thomas Benner, 28, works for an air traffic control software company; his brother, Christopher Benner, who is an attorney in Las Vegas, is refusing to comment beyond telling the Charlotte Observer that he is "addressing legal matters" for his brother. Police have not yet announced a motive in the murder but say Benner will be charged with murder and first-degree arson.
Strous' father tells People that Benner lived above Strous, who was home alone the night of the murder writing bridal shower thank-you cards. Her mother tells the Observer, "This was the only weekend that she was alone," as her roommate was attending an out-of-state wedding and her fiance, whom she met in college in 2008, was at a pre-wedding guys' weekend in Maryland. More than 300 people attended a candlelit vigil in her home town of York, Pa., on Tuesday, and a GoFundMe page had raised nearly $28,000 as of this writing to "give Amanda's family, fiance, and friends the tools/resources they need to begin overcoming this awfulness." "My daughter was in love and [as a dad] that's great," her father says. "She was full of life." Authorities found Benner via his cell phone's GPS. He confessed, but no further details have been released. (This groom was killed hours after his wedding.)