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Psychic: 'Divine Intervention' Aided In Bennett Murder Suspect's Arrest

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DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham woman said she believes psychic intervention played a role in arresting a suspect in the 3-year-old murder investigation of 23-year-old Stephanie Bennett.

In August 2005, psychic Sherrie Dillard said she worked for about a month with Raleigh police investigator Ken Copeland to try to identify a suspect in Bennett's death. The two talked on the phone, via e-mail and even visited the North Raleigh apartment where Bennett's body was found on May 21, 2002.

During that trip, Dillard said she even led police to an apartment close to Bennett's, where investigators believe the suspect, 35-year-old Drew Planten, may have lived.

Dillard, who has a Master's degree in divinity, called it "divine intervention."

"Sometimes, you just know, and I just knew," Dillard said. "That's where (the suspect) lived, and I could see right where he walked up, too. I don't know, I think I was helped a lot, maybe from Stephanie."

E-mail messages between Dillard and Copeland show Dillard was providing information that described the suspect. In her e-mails, Dillard described the suspect as a "loner, someone young and wiry."

"They had over 100 suspects," Dillard said. "This narrowed it down to a profile of one and that's when they were able to pinpoint him."

Dillard said she had visions where she kept seeing black. She now believes that was because Planten was often described as wearing black. Initially, Dillard said she thought the suspect might have been younger, but after seeing Planten, she said she thinks it was just that he looked young.

"He had no feeling for her, no guilt, just complete cold," Dillard said of the suspect she described to investigators.

In response to some of the information she provided to investigators, Copeland said Dillard was "doing great." In one e-mail response that she showed to WRAL, Copeland apparently wrote to Dillard: "You may be closer than you think. I have a person that fits the description you are describing."

And while she never got paid for her work, Dillard said she felt like her work was priceless in helping to narrow the field of suspects.

"I felt like I was instrumental in bringing them specific information that they matched to someone they had kind of suspected," Dillard said.

While Raleigh police said they were grateful for their contact with Dillard, they told WRAL Monday that her consultation did not provide detectives with any information beyond what they already knew, A spokesman told WRAL that with the Bennett investigation, police interviewed more than 1,000 people and that they had been willing to talk to anyone who they thought could help them with the case.


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