CHARLOTTE, NC (WTXF) - The autopsy of a former Shippensburg University athlete and bride-to-be revealed that she was strangled with her mouth taped shut before her apartment was set on fire, according to Daily Mail.
Amanda Strous, 27, was brutally murdered on June 18th in Charlotte, North Carolina just days before her wedding date on July 30th.
She was found wearing only a pair of bathing suit bottoms with her mouth taped shut, and the autopsy revealed that she suffered significant burns and blunt force injuries.
Police say Matthew Thomas Benner, 28, confessed to the killing, and was charged with first-degree arson and murder.
Benner lived in the victim’s apartment complex, and authorities believe he was stalking her.
According to witnesses, Benner was seen standing outside Strous’ apartment with blood on his hands while warning neighbors not to enter.
Neighbors called the police around 5:30 p.m. after noticing smoke and flames coming from the victim’s apartment.
They told authorities they heard a loud, chilling scream before the smoke alarm went off.
According to investigators, the fire had been deliberately set while the victim was in the building and that it was not a random act of violence.
Strous was rushed to the hospital after firefighters were able to pull her from her burning building, but she died there later from her injuries.
Benner fled the scene after hearing police and fire sirens, and was caught in Las Vegas 2 days later, according to police. He was found sleeping in a car outside of a motel in Pahrum, Nevada.
The victim’s fianceé, was at his bachelor party at the time of the murder.
Strous was a former NCAA championship-winning field hockey player and coach at Shippensburg University.
The victim and her fiancée were Pennsylvania natives, and moved to North Carolina together after her fianceé got a new job in the area.
Strous has been working as a college counselor at Central Piedmont Community College where she helped students plan their academic paths.
A GoFundMe page was created to raise money towards her funeral and counseling for Strous’ friends and family, and over $41,000 has already been raised.