Amanda Strous was supposed to get married on July 30th. But things took a tragic turn Saturday night, when she was writing thank you cards to friends who attended her bridal shower. Her upstairs neighbor, 28 year old Mathew Thomas Benner, lit their apartment complex on fire for reasons unknown. Strous died at a nearby hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina at 27-years-old.
Benner was found 40 hours later sleeping in his truck outside of a Best Western near Las Vegas, Nevada when authorities tracked his phone’s GPS system. He allegedly confessed to the murder and was arrested. He was charged with murder and first-degree arson.
“She lived her life as graciously and as faith-filled as any parent could have asked for,” her mother, Crystal Strous, told the Charlotte Observer. “She was genuine and real and very compassionate. She was a wonderful listener.”
“This was a young lady who, when you talk about being the change, she was that change,” she added during her daughter’s vigil Monday. “She lived by her words, her rules, her morals, and her faith.”
Strous was a college counselor at a local school and planned to marry her longtime boyfriend Cory McCleaf — whom she met in college — next month. She played field hockey in college and graduated with a degree in psychology with a minor in art.
Neither Strous’ roommate or fiancé were home during the tragedy.