Esther Stephen, Shelby Hiestand, Shea Briar
Esther Stephen (top right, and Shelby Hiestand (bottom right) are charged with the murder of Shea Briar, who is the mother of Stephen’s child (left). (Picture: Facebook/WPTA21)

A mother and her friend murdered the father of her child as the former couple battled for custody of their child, it is alleged.

Esther Stephen, 29, and Shelby Hiestand, 18, are accused of shooting 31-year-old Shea Briar dead in Jay County, Indiana over the weekend.

Stephen, who had a one-year-old daughter with Briar, was the head coach of the softball team at Fort Recovery High School, which is just over the state line in Ohio. Hiestand was her assistant coach.

Investigators said Stephen was upset that Briar had petitioned for custody rights of their child and wanted to change their daughter’s last name.

She reportedly confessed to driving Briar to a remote stretch of dirt road in Jay County where Hiestand shot him in the back with a .22 caliber rifle, while Stephen distracted him.

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Authorities found Briar suffering from a gunshot wound on County Road 125 on Sunday morning. He was flown to a hospital in Fort Wayne, but died of his injuries before doctors got him into surgery, according to Fort Wayne NBC.

An autopsy found the bullet hit Briar’s heart.

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Investigators interviewed Stephen and Hiestand on Tuesday, which is when the pair reportedly admitted to the murder.

They both told police that they went to Hiestand’s house to pick up the rifle and ammunition.

The pair then went to Fairview United Methodist Church, where they loaded the rifle into the back of their vehicle, police said.

Shea Briar
Stephen was reportedly angry at Briar for pursuing custody of their child. (Picture: Facebook)

Stephens reportedly called Briar shortly before midnight on Saturday and asked if he wanted to hang out. He agreed and the two women picked him up at his home.

Investigators say the pair then drove Briar to the bridge, then got out of the vehicle. Hiestand then shot Briar in the back as Stephen distracted him so he would not notice Hiestand retrieving the rifle from the car.

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Both coaches have since been arrested and charged with murder. They were also put on administrative leave from the school

Briar and Stephen were due in court for a custody hearing on February 5. It is unclear when she and Hiestand are due back in court.

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