Two Women Charged in Man’s Killing Amid Child Custody Dispute

(PORTLAND, Ind.) — Two Indiana women who are softball coaches at an Ohio high school were charged Wednesday with murder in the fatal shooting of a man that allegedly arose from a child custody dispute.

Esther J. Stephen, 29, and Shelby N. Hiestand, 18, both from the eastern Indiana city of Portland, are charged in the killing of Shea Michael Briar, 31. The Portland man was pronounced dead Sunday after he was found along a Jay County road with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Stephen and Hiestand were being held Wednesday without bond at the Jay County Jail, with initial hearings scheduled for Thursday. It wasn’t clear whether either woman has an attorney who could speak on their behalf.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Stephen and Hiestand admitted conspiring to kill Briar, who shared a child with Stephen. Stephen was allegedly angry that Briar had initiated court proceedings to establish parenting time rights for that child and was seeking to change the youngster’s last name.

Stephen and Briar were scheduled for a Feb. 5 court hearing on the custody dispute, The (Portland) Commercial Review reported.

Authorities allege that Stephen went to Hiestand’s home to pick up a rifle and ammunition before calling Briar early Sunday to invite him to spend time together. The women then picked up Briar at his home and drove him to a bridge where Hiestand shot him once, the affidavit states.

Stephen and Hiestand are the head coach and assistant coach, respectively, of Fort Recovery (Ohio) High School’s softball team, The (Muncie) Star Press reported. Both were placed on administrative leave from their coaching positions following their arrests.