A 25-year-old nursing student was killed by her ex-boyfriend who allegedly called his parents to confess before killing himself, authorities in Michigan said.
Gina Bryant, a student at the University of Michigan-Flint, was killed around midnight on Oct. 13 after her coworkers reported her missing the day prior, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
They were concerned because Bryant had not returned to work after going home for a lunch break, the sheriff’s office said. The friends had also reported getting “odd text messages from her phone,” the release states.
Authorities quickly suspected that Bryant’s ex-boyfriend, Justin Wendling, 26, of Holly, Michigan, was involved. Authorities said they believe Wendling waited at Bryant’s home. A neighbor’s security video showed him “leading the victim to his vehicle” on the afternoon she went missing, according to the sheriff’s office.
Wendling allegedly called his parents and told them that he had killed Bryant and was going to kill himself, authorities said. The parents alerted detectives to a location in LaSalle, Illinois. Security footage and witnesses at a truck stop in LaSalle “confirmed that the suspect had shot and killed the victim,” the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said.
Wendling tried to flee local law enforcement to Bettendorf, Iowa. He allegedly shot and killed himself as officers approached his vehicle, the news release states.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said what happened was “tragic” and said his office has seen a rise in the number of domestic violence cases.
“These incidents are tragic not only to the victims & survivors, but to family members as well,” he said in a statement. “Please, if you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation, do not hesitate to reach out.”
Bryant’s sister, Angelica Gintner, declined to comment on Friday. She told The Detroit News that Bryant had told her family that Wendling had allegedly abused her during their relationship. Gintner said about two weeks ago she and their mother moved Bryant out of the apartment she shared with Wendling.
“She was very beautiful, down-to-earth, giving woman,” Gintner told the newspaper. “She could brighten up a day with just her smile. She’d give you the shirt off [her] back. She was caring and compassionate.”
Bryant was a student in the university’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, a spokesperson said Friday. Wendling did not attend the university.
Cynthia McCurren, dean of the School of Nursing, said she was “heartbroken” over Bryant’s death.
“Gina was a student in our accelerated BSN program and a friend to many in her program,” McCurren said in a letter to students and faculty. “There are truly no words to fully capture the anguish that losses like this cause our community. Gina was an extraordinary young woman with much ahead of her. I am personally struggling to make sense of this horrible news as I imagine many of you will be doing as well.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at 988lifeline.org. You can also visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional support.
If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence hotline for help at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to www.thehotline.org for more. States often have domestic violence hotlines as well.