Third woman charged in fatal shooting of Jay County man


JAY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A third woman has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man over an alleged custody dispute.

Jay County Prosecuting Attorney Wes Schemenaur says investigators went to Iowa to interview the third suspect.

The Jay County Prosecutor’s Office said a second 18-year-old, Hannah Knapke of Fort Recovery, Ohio, was arrested and charged in the death of Shea Briar, 31. This comes one week after 31-year-old Esther Stephen and 18-year-old Shelby Hiestand were also arrested and charged with murder.

According to case documents, Stephen and Hiestand met at a church with Knapke where they discussed using her as a driver to pick up Briar before killing him since the two had no known connections. Knapke told investigators she agreed to the plan of driving to the bridge on County Road 125 W in Jay County with everyone involved where Briar would be killed.

Arrest photo of Hannah Knapke.

There, while Stephen distracted Briar, Hiestand shot him in the heart through his back with the rifle, the affidavit says. Knapke was standing near Hiestand when the shooting happened.

An initial hearing for Knapke will be held in the Jay Circuit Court at a later time.

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.

Prosecutor Schemenaur says the alleged crime has hit the Jay County community hard.

“These aren’t just nameless people. People, you know people on both sides from the defendants family, and from the victim’s family. It really does. It’s been a rough week here in Jay County for the community. Almost every where you go, you hear questions asked, or just comments like “I just can’t believe it. That type of thing. So it’s, I would ask people just keep our community in their thoughts, because it’s been a rough week,” says Schemenaur.

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 fired.

WANE 15 had the chance to speak with Briar’s family. They described him as some that 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,” says 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 the one to help us,” says Pastor Smiley.

Briar’s mom says she just wants justice for Shea. Prosecutor Schemenaur wants the same.

“I feel for her and that whole family. Yeah, that’s the goal in any case is to do justice. And I know that that family is struggling right now. And we’re going to do our best to make sure that we get justice for Shea,” says Schemenaur.

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