Local News

Police Make Arrest In Stephanie Bennett Murder Case

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Three years ago Stephanie Bennett had just graduated from college when she was raped and murdered in her apartment on

Lake Lynn Drive

in Raleigh, police said. She was 23 years old.

On Wednesday, at about 4:30 p.m., Raleigh police arrested 35-year-old Drew Edward Planten in the

4000 block of Reedy Creek Road

and charged him with Bennett's murder.

Sources said Planten worked as a chemistry technician in a fertilizer laboratory for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in biology. He was arrested outside the laboratory.

"Tonight is a night of relief," Carmon Bennett, Stephanie Bennett's father, said. "We're just happy to know that this animal is off the streets and this can't happen to another young lady."

Carmon Bennett said he did not know Planten, and he does not believe his daughter knew the suspect.

"Stephanie did not know this person, I'm quite sure," he said.

He said police told him that Planten was a recluse. "He doesn't associate with anyone and doesn't have any friends," Bennett said police told him. "He was just a very weird individual."

Police said a male entered Stephanie Bennett's apartment through a window during the night of Monday, May 20, 2002, and raped and killed her. Police found Stephanie's body in her apartment the next day.

Carmon Bennett said Planten lived near Stephanie, who was a native of Rocky Mount, Va., and had moved to Raleigh after graduating from Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

"Making an arrest in this case has remained a priority for the Raleigh Police Department since the moment officers responded to the crime scene more than three years ago," Raleigh Police Chief Jane Perlov said in a written statement. "In the end, the case was solved by outstanding, old-fashioned police work coupled with modern science."

Police have not released any additional information about what led to Planten's arrest. They said more information would be provided at a news conference Thursday morning.

Sources said Planten would make his first court appearance Thursday afternoon.

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