Matthew Burton, 28, of Dagsboro was indicted last week by a Worcester County, Md., grand jury for the murder of 35-year-old Nicole Bennett of Millsboro in June.
In the indictment, Burton is charged with first- and second-degree murder, as well as first- and second-degree rape, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, kidnapping and first-degree assault.
In August, during an extradition hearing in the Delaware Superior Court, Judge T. Henley Graves noted that items of a “peculiar nature” has been found in Burton’s car that allegedly linked him to Bennett’s abduction and murder.
“In his vehicle, certain items were found of a peculiar nature. I think a ski mask, rope, gloves,” noted Graves. “DNA of your client was found on the body of a deceased woman in Maryland… that’s a game-changer,” he told Burton’s attorneys — enough, he said, to establish probable cause and order the extradition to Maryland.
Burton had worked as a contract custodial employee for Bay Shore Community Church in Gumboro, where Bennett had worked in the Bay Shore Babies and SPLASH programs.
On the evening of June 15, Bennett had gone to Bay Shore to catch up on work. She was reported missing the following morning by her husband, when he realized she had not returned home.
Bennett’s body was discovered the following morning along a dirt road in Maryland, less than six miles from the church.
Burton, who was a Tier 1 sex offender at the time of Bennett’s murder, had allegedly not disclosed his offender status to the church at the time of his employment. Following church officials’ discovery of sex-offender status, his employment at the church was to be terminated, effective June 16, the day after Bennett’s murder.
Bennett is survived by her husband, Kevin, and their three daughters, ages 11, 8 and 16 months.
Burton is scheduled for an arraignment and initial appearance in Worcester County Circuit Court on Sept. 19.