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Amber Estep family: Medical Examiner didn’t release body for nearly three months

Amber Estep family: Medical Examiner didn’t release body for nearly three months


BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — It’s been nearly three months since Amber Estep was found dead on the side of the road in Mims. Investigators said her husband, Brian Estep, killed her.

While her family has been pushing for answers as to why, they’ve also been fighting to lay their daughter to rest.

Brenda Leet said the Medical Examiners’ Office had custody over Amber’s body up until about a week ago after Amber’s husband, Brian Estep, was arrested.

“We went through hell,” Leet said.

The family said they couldn’t even have a memorial service with Amber’s body there.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said Amber Estep was murdered by her husband, Brian in January. Investigators say he shot and killed his wife in an area popular for four-wheelers--known as the Black Hole. The Sheriff’s Office says he later dropped off her body here on the side of the road in Mims.

But up until the end of March, investigators were still piecing together those facts. Brevard County Sheriff’s Office says the Medical Examiner’s did not release Amber Estep’s body.

“All I could think about was her laying up there. And, you know, by herself, all by herself. And it just about killed me,” Leet said, speaking about her daughter’s body in the Medical Examiner’s custody. “They just said that [Brian} was next of kin because he was the husband. That’s why they wouldn’t release the body to me, right off.”

WFTV spoke to legal experts about the issue.

Legal expert Mark NeJame said the law reflects that the next of kin is the spouse.

However, NeJame said the law clearly states there are exceptions with next of kin when the spouse is connected to the person’s death.

But that statute states that exception only applies if the person is arrested.

“But since there was clearly a criminal investigation going on, law enforcement was, in my opinion, well within their rights to preserve the body,” NeJame said.

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office says often, in homicide cases, bodies are not released immediately because it’s critical evidence.

However, the Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t comment on whether Amber Estep’s case was abnormal, with the Medical Examiner’s Office keeping the body for months.

The Medical Examiner’s Office would not comment on the record of the open investigation.

Leet says the body was released to Amber’s family just days after Estep was arrested in West Virginia.


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