Police Charge Delaware Man with Nicole Bennett's Murder
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - Authorities have arrested a Sussex County man in connection with the murder of Nicole Bennett.
Matthew Burton, 28, of Dagsboro, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, according to Maryland State Police.
Bennett, 35, of Millsboro, was found dead on June 15 along Swamp Road near Whaleyville, Md.
The U.S. Marshal's Task Force located Burton Friday night along Route 1 near Rehoboth Beach after police obtained an arrest warrant. Burton was apprehended during a traffic stop and taken into police custody.
Burton previously worked as a custodian at Bay Shore Community Church in Gumboro, where Bennett also worked. Bennett's husband reported her missing roughly an hour before a walker found her body. Police said the mother of three never returned home from church the night before where she was working late.
Delaware State Police responded to the church and found Bennett's vehicle parked in the lot. It was locked with her personal belongings inside. Police said Bennett had been alone inside the church with Burton.
Investigators said DNA evidence links Burton to the murder.
An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore determined Bennett was murdered and had been asphyxiated, according to police. Investigators said Bennett was likely already dead when her body was left along the embankment of the dirt road.
Investigators said they have not yet confirmed the scene of the initial crime; a motive for the murder remains unclear at this time, police said.
Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Shavack told WBOC last month that Burton was arrested in June for failing to update his employment status as a registered sex offender. Burton is a Tier 1 (low-risk) offender who was released from the church on June 16, Shavack said. Bennett's body was found one day before.
In a June 26 statement, Bay Shore called Burton a "part-time independent contractor" and acknowledged that he was no longer working at the church. The church declined to comment further on what it called a personnel matter.
Following a memorial service in Gumboro, Bennett was buried in Nebraska where she is from, according to her obituary.
Burton is being held at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown pending an extradition hearing.
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