Man arrested in Nevada after college counselor pulled from burning Charlotte apartment

Man arrested after college counselor found dead
Published: Jun. 20, 2016 at 5:05 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2016 at 4:14 AM EDT
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Amanda Strous, 27. (Photo provided to WBTV)
Amanda Strous, 27. (Photo provided to WBTV)
Matthew Benner (NYE County Sheriff's Office)
Matthew Benner (NYE County Sheriff's Office)
(Taylor Verrico | WBTV)
(Taylor Verrico | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Authorities say a 28-year-old man arrested in Nevada has confessed to the murder of a college campus counselor whose Charlotte apartment was intentionally set on fire.

Firefighters were called to the fire on Toscana Way at 5:36 p.m. Saturday. Charlotte Fire Department said they were able to remove Amanda Strous, 27, from the burning apartment.

Strous was then taken to Carolinas Medical Center- Steele Creek, but died from her injuries.

RELATED: 27-year-old woman dies after being pulled from 'intentionally set' fire in Charlotte

Monday afternoon, police said Mathew Thomas Benner, 28, was arrested and charged with Strous' murder.

"It wasn't just one life that that person took away that evening. He's going to affect multiple lives for a very long time and it just isn't fair," said friend Katelynn Shoop.

Shoop and former coaches gathered at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania where Strous grew up and lead the women's field hockey team.

"She was just a wonderful person with a wonderful attitude. A smile no one can forget and a laugh that no one can forget," said Bill Morgal, with Shippensburg Athletics.

Benner was arrested in Nevada through a combined effort of the U.S. Marshals Violent Offender Task Force, the Nye County Sheriff's Office and CMPD's Violent Criminal Apprehension Team.

Benner is currently in the custody of the Nye County Sheriff's Office awaiting extradition.  There is no timetable on his return, but officials said detectives from Charlotte were en route to Nevada Monday afternoon.

Officials said Benner was found sleeping in his truck at a Best Western hotel. According to a release from the NYE County Sheriff's Office, an "interview was conducted and confession obtained from Benner."

Benner will be charged with murder and first-degree arson.

Neighbors said they had seen Benner around the complex before.

"I done seen him on the grounds plenty of times-rental office, at the mailbox, everything," said neighbor Renee Trice.

Friends of the victim were appalled at what had happened. Several people have left flowers outside of Strous' apartment.

"What a terrible person. I don't know how you could do that to somebody," said Ashlynn James, a friend of the victim.

Strous was a student counselor at Central Piedmont Community College. She had been employed at CPCC for about six months.

"She helped students plan their academic paths and helped them be successful in their programs of study," the university said Monday. "The college is deeply saddened by Amanda's death. The thoughts and prayers of the college community are with Amanda's family, friends and coworkers."

WBTV has also learned that Strous was engaged and set to be married in just two months.

The FAA says Benner was a contractor in the training department of the FAA air traffic control tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. He access to the airport has since been revoked. Benner was not an air traffic controller.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Unit Detective.  Detective Grosse is the lead detective assigned to the case.

The public can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or visit the Crime Stoppers mobile app website at

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