Police: No arrests in murder of Nicole Bennett

Church employees questioned; none charged
June 26, 2012
Nicole Bennett of Millsboro is shown here in 2010 at Bay Shore Community Church. SOURCE FILE PHOTO

Maryland State Police have released no new information on their investigation into the death of Nicole Bennett, a 35-year-old mother of three found dead along a rural road in Maryland June 15.

As part of the investigation, several employees of Bay Shore Community Church in Gumboro where Bennett worked have been interviewed by Maryland State Police, said Delaware State Police spokesman Paul Shavack.

One of those interviewed has a criminal record, although the circumstances appear unrelated to the homicide investigation. Shavack said Maryland police interviewed Matthew N. Burton of Georgetown, a Tier-1 registered sex offender.

Shavack said a church administrator notified police that Burton was released from employment June 16 as they are required to do when the employee is a registered sex-offender. When Burton failed to register his change in employment, Delaware State Police Sex Offender Unit arrested him June 22. He was released on $5,000 secured bond June 23, according to Justice of the Peace Court 3 in Georgetown. The case has been transferred to the Court of Common Pleas.

Shavack said Burton is not listed on the online version of the Delaware sex offender registry because he is a low-level, Tier-1 offender; Burton was found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child in 2004; only Tier 2 and Tier 3 offenders are listed online. However, anyone convicted of sexually based crimes is monitored closely by law enforcement agencies.

Shavack said none of the employees was held following the interviews prompted by Bennett's death.  Burton's June 22 arrest was unrelated to the Bennett homicide, he said. The church was contacted as to the reason for Burton's release, but the official responsible for personnel was unavailable at press time. Attempts to locate Burton for comment were unsuccessful.

Bennett, who lived with her family in the Peninsula at Long Neck, was last heard from June 14. Her death was ruled a homicide by Maryland State Police who are leading the investigation. Bennett’s body was found just over the state line in Whaleyville, Md.

Bennett's car was found in the parking lot at Bay Shore Community Church June 15. Police have not disclosed whether Bennett had been sexually assaulted.

Elena Russo, spokeswoman for the Maryland State Police, said she doesn’t want to release any information that could taint the case.

“In the interest of the investigation, I would rather stay as vague as possible,” Russo said. “No arrests have been made. We would send out a press release if an arrest had been made.”

She said residents should conduct business as usual. The police are still looking for information on anything unusual residents might have seen during the night of June 14 and morning of June 15, Russo said.

“The investigators are following leads. They have suspects,” said Russo.

Russo declined to discuss the results of an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Bennett’s body was released to her family and her funeral took place June 23 in Nebraska, where she was buried alongside a sister.

Police ask anyone with information to call Worcester County Lower Eastern Shore Crime Solvers at 410-548-1776. Calls will remain confidential.




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