JAY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Two Portland women have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man, perhaps over a custody dispute.
The Jay County’s Prosecutor’s office says 31-year-old Esther Stephen and 18-year-old Shelby Hiestand have been arrested for murder in the death of Shea Briar.
According to court documents, Stephen and Hiestand met at a Fairview church where they called Briar. The pair then picked up Briar at his Portland home and the three drove to a bridge on C.R. 125 West. There, while Stephen distracted Briar, Hiestand shot him in the back with a .22-caliber rifle, court records say.
Briar was found in the roadway around 2 a.m. Jan. 12. He was taken to a Decatur hospital then transferred to a Fort Wayne hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Stephen and Hiestand were arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Jay County Prosecutor Wes Schemenaur expects to file formal charges on Wednesday.
Court records show Stephen and Briar were in a custody battle over a child. Briar intended to establish paternity for the child, petitioned for child custody, and filed to provide support, parenting time, and a name change for the child.
The Fort Recovery Local Schools in Fort Recovery, Ohio confirmed Stephen and Hiestand were softball coaches at the school. In a statement, the school said the pair have been placed on immediate administrative leave. Stephen and Hiestand are not to have any communication with students.
Stephen and Hiestand are being held at the Jay County Security Center without bond.
WANE 15 had the chance to speak with Briar’s family. They described him as someone who loved his daughter, his dogs, the military, and serving others. Briar served in the Navy from 2008 until 2012.
Briar’s pastor says he was so full of life, and that life was cut short.
“I want to remember the man for who he was, and who he is. And the impact he’s made on so many lives,” said Pastor Angela Smiley of Fairview United Methodist Church in Randolph County.
“We serve in a church, we think we’re there to help people, right? But in this case, it became him being the one to help us,” says Pastor Smiley.