Stephanie Bennett of the Lake Lynn murder case in Raleigh, North Carolina, will be show on Investigation Discovery’s next Unusual Suspects, a compelling crime documentary series that features true crime cases that involved an unusual suspect. Stephanie Bennett was murdered in 2002 in her apartment, which she shared with her roommate. It took detectives three years to finally get the evidence to crack the case. The 35-year old man indicted was Drew Edward Planten, a shy and antisocial misfit who had a penchant for raping and killing women. Planten was never brought to justice. WRAL reported that the mentally-disturbed man committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell before he could be brought to trial.
The Stephanie Bennett–Drew Planten case has been played out on Forensic Files and Investigation Discovery’s Nightmare Next Door and Southern Fried Homicide. On Sunday’s episode, entitled “Vicious Voyeur,” ID fans will listen to expert commentary from law enforcement officials who were touched by the case, as well as possible family members and acquaintances.
Stephanie Bennett was found dead in her apartment complex located at the Bridgeport Apartment Homes in Lake Lynn, after concerned family members and her boyfriend were unable to get a hold of her by phone. When they entered the location, they found the 23-year old woman lying unresponsive on the floor. She was on her back and had ligature marks on her neck. It was apparent to seasoned detectives that she had been strangled. The police believed that the killer took the item used to strangle the woman with him to cover his tacks. Her unsolved murder baffled the community, leaving them in fear and in shock, according to the News & Observer.
A canvas of the neighborhood yielded few clues, which made the case go cold for a few years. The lead detective on the case knew early on that it would be a hard case to solve. In an interview, he revealed that he felt that the person who did it was a stranger, and that the person was most likely to strike again. After a while, a neighbor recalled seeing a man who was caught peeping inside of Stephanie Bennett’s apartment. He was also pretty sure that he had seen the same man again a short time later, but the second time he was walking a dog. With that information, detectives asked around the neighborhood about a man with a dog, and they were told to check out a guy named Drew Planten.
The tipster was spot on. Detectives then had to find a way to trap him into giving his DNA. They were able to get help from Drew Planten’s supervisor, who was willing to cooperate with police by setting up a fake mandatory dinner meeting for employees. But, investigators say that Planten was bent on not leaving his DNA behind. Investigators thought they had struck gold when Planten finally took a bite of some pudding, but the DNA extracted for that test came back as only a partial match. His supervisor had one more idea that might help them get the proof they needed. This time she had Drew Planten perform a task, which would obligate him to wear a pair of latex gloves. After he performed the task, detectives retrieved the gloves from the office that night and sent them to the testing lab, which eventually got a match.
Drew Planten was arrested and charged with the murder of Stephanie Bennett. He never offered any explanation or any defense. He remained in a catatonic state, where he completely shut down, saying nothing–a technique that he allegedly learned as a child when he was being abused by his father.
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