Local News

Murder Charges Against Drew Planten Possible In Michigan Cold Case

Posted November 8, 2005

— Authorities in Lansing, Mich., could decide this week whether they will file charges in connection with a six-year-old unsolved murder case against the only suspect in the Stephanie Bennett murder investigation.

Sources tell WRAL that property belonging to Drew Planten, 35, who was arrested Oct. 19 on first-degree murder charges, is now being tested at a Michigan state crime laboratory. Investigators want to know if evidence they have in the 1997 death of Rebecca Huismann can link Planten to her death.

Up until 1997, Planten lived in a home on a busy road just a few miles away from where Huismann was killed. In 1999, when Huismann was shot in the head and killed, Planten lived with his mother in a middle-class neighborhood in Charlotte, a Lansing suburb.

Huismann was from Newaygo, a town of just 1,700 people. Her death in the big city away from her hometown was a shock.

"If anybody died, it was because they were old or sick. Murder -- you just don't hear it here," said Newaygo resident Zeke Hernandez.

Six years later, people in the community still wonder why Huismann died.

"The only thing we ever knew was the manner in which she died," Hernandez said. "But there's no reason. She wasn't robbed or raped to our knowledge. It just seemed so pointless. Why did someone so nice have to die for no reason?"

At Huismann's childhood home in Newaygo, her parents are hopeful. After six years, they said they would like closure in the case. Their daughter was interested in theater and art and was never able to pursue her dreams.

Michigan authorities were also interested in Planten for a possible connection in two other unsolved cases, but two of those cases were not very strong.

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