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Murder Suspect's Arrest May Prompt Re-Examination Of Cold Cases

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Authorities in Michigan may re-examine the deaths of at least two women after Raleigh police arrested a suspect in the murder of Stephanie Bennett last week.

Drew Edward Planten, 35, of Raleigh, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in the May 2002 death of Bennett, who was found gagged, strangled, raped and dead in her North Raleigh apartment, according to investigators.

The arrest has led authorities to Planten's home state of Michigan, where investigators are trying to solve at least two women's deaths in Ingham County, where Planten lived with his mother while attending Michigan State University.

The women's deaths took place months before Planten moved to North Carolina in 2000 to accept a job with the N.C. Department of Agriculture as a chemistry technician, investigators said.

Those two women, who police said were murdered, lived less than 20 miles from where Planten lived at the time, in Charlotte, Mich.

One of the victims' deaths occurred six years ago to the day that Planten was arrested in Raleigh on Oct. 19.

That unsolved case is the 1999 death of 22-year-old Rebecca Huismann, a dancer who was found shot in the head in her car, according to Michigan authorities.

Raleigh police have been in contact with authorities in Michigan to see if any of the unsolved cases are connected to Planten.

On Friday, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Agriculture also said Planten is still employed with the state. The spokesman said Planten has not been fired, but he would not elaborate, citing personnel matters.


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