Man accused of killing college counselor, burning her apartment pleads guilty

Amanda Strous, 27 (Photo provided to WBTV)
Amanda Strous, 27 (Photo provided to WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The man accused of killing a college counselor, whose body was found inside her burning apartment, pleaded guilty on murder charges Thursday.

Matthew Benner is accused of killing 27-year-old Amanda Strous in June 2016. Strous was a student counselor at Central Piedmont Community College and had been employed at CPCC for nearly six months.

Benner was found sleeping in his truck outside of a motel in Nevada several days after her death, officials said. He was charged with murder and first-degree arson.

Thursday, Benner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree arson and malicious damage to property.

Authorities who arrested Benner say he confessed to the crime, but when he initially faced a judge he entered a "not guilty" plea.

RELATED: Man accused of killing college counselor, burning apartment pleads 'not guilty'

Benner lived in the same apartment complex as Strous, along Toscana Way in Charlotte's Steele Creek area. Firefighters pulled Strous from her burning apartment on June 18. She was then taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Steele Creek, but died from her injuries.

Strous was engaged to be married just weeks before she died. Friends described her as "a light" and as someone who always stayed positive.

Benner recently worked as a contractor at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and has his pilot's license, according to the FAA. He also lived in Las Vegas recently, according to information on social media posts bearing his name.

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