Local News

Planten Investigation Continues, Even After His Death

Posted January 4, 2006 12:02 p.m. EST

— Raleigh investigators said Tuesday that they are continuing to investigate whether Drew Planten may have been connected to other homicides.

"The fact that (Drew Planten's) life has ended has not ended our investigation, said Sgt. J.C. Perry, of the Raleigh Police Department.

"I think it's very safe to say that Drew Planten was a very dangerous man," Perry later said. "He was capable of doing anything."

Investigators also released more details about what they found in Planten's apartment that they said linked him to the May 2002 death of Stephanie Bennett.

Among the evidence, included Bennett's bank statements and college loan papers and newspaper articles about her death.

Perry also said detectives found women's underwear and references to as many as 20 other women who they think may have been future victims.

Authorities were testing the underwear for DNA to determine to whom it may belong. They also contacted all of the women whose names were referenced in Planten's apartment -- all of whom were alive.

"There are a lot of mixed emotions," Perry said. "We would have very much have liked to brought Mr. Planten into a courtroom."

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Susan Spurlin, who was assigned to handle the case against Planten, said that Planten's death spares Bennett's family from a painful trial, but also deprives authorities of answers.

"It's disappointing that we will never answer the question, 'Why Stephanie?" Spurlin said. "And hopefully, Drew Planten would have provided answers as to why serial killers kill."

Michigan Officials: Planten Would Have Been Charged

Spurlin also said Tuesday that investigators found items belonging to Rebecca Huismann, a Lansing, Mich., woman, who authorities believe was killed by Planten in October 1999.

Investigators found a gun in Planten's apartment that was linked to Huismann's death, as well as letters addressed to Huismann.

"I'm convinced in my mind that Mr. Planten was responsible in Ms. Huismann's murder," said Lansing prosecuting attorney Stuart Dunning.

Even before Planten's death, Michigan authorities had scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to decide whether Planten would be charged in Huismann's death. Had he been alive, Planten would have been charged.

Lansing prosecuting attorney Stuart Dunning believes Planten, who he thinks did not know Huismann, may have first focused his attention on the 22-year-old in a nightclub where she worked. Authorities were also able to place Planten in Huismann's neighborhood around the time of her death.

"(In) my personal opinion, he was fishing," Dunning said. "He was looking."

The Huismann case, Dunning said, is now closed.