Bay Shore Community Church member Derek Cathell said the church has improved security following the death of member Nicole Bennett, 35, of Millsboro.
The mother of three was found dead along a rural road in Whaleyville, Md., June 15. Maryland State Police are working with Delaware State Police on the investigation. Police have released very few details in the case, and no arrests have been made.
Cathell, a state police officer in Georgetown, said the church has installed a new security system. New background checks were also performed on all employees.
Cathell said he still plans to enroll his daughter in the church's daycare, SPLASH, which is next door to the Gumboro church.
"Everything seems to be running as normal at the church," said Cathell, who has been a member for five years.
He met Nicole Bennett on only two occasions, but he said she was doing a good job with the nursery and daycare programs at the church.
No new information on the investigation was released July 2. The Maryland State Police communications office was closed because of widespread power outages in Maryland, said a spokesman for Maryland State Police.
Delaware State Police spokesman Gary Fournier said Maryland State Police took the lead role because the body was found in Maryland.
“Agencies work hand-in-hand in many investigations, not just death investigations,” Fournier said. “Detectives work daily on trying to solve burglaries, robberies, thefts and any other cases where the same type of crime may have been committed in a surrounding city or state jurisdiction. If a lead points the investigators in the direction of a city or town in another state, the detectives will contact that agency to try and solve the crime they are investigating, which in turn, could potentially solve that agency's crime.”
Former state police trooper Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said Delaware State Police and Maryland State Police often work together. They frequently know each other from training and conferences, but they also work together on investigations.
"In situations like the Bennett case, it is best to let the professionals handle it because they are working to find justice for the family," Schwartzkopf said. “They are not on anyone's timetable."
He said police try to find out where the crime occurred. Based on that information they do the investigation using that state's court system. When the body was found in Maryland, police immediately tried to determine where the crime took place. In some cases, police with jurisdiction over where the body was found take lead, Schwartzkopf said, stating he has no knowledge of the Bennett case other than what he reads in the newspaper.
"If they determine the crime happened in Delaware, then it will likely be prosecuted through Delaware courts," Schwartzkopf said.
Maryland police work with Delaware police to get search warrants and other court documents. If Maryland officers needed a search warrant for a Delaware resident, they would go to court with Delaware State Police troopers, Schwartzkopf said.