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Crime News Domestic Violence

Nursing Student Slain by Doctor Ex-Boyfriend Who Allegedly Abducted Her, Shot Her at Truck Stop, Then Killed Himself

"Coworkers became concerned when she did not return to work following her lunch break and they began receiving odd text messages from her phone," the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said of Gina Bryant's murder.

By Gina Salamone
A personal photo of Gina Bryant

A Michigan nursing student was allegedly abducted and fatally shot by a man family members described as her abusive ex-boyfriend, who later admitted to his parents that he killed her before taking his own life. 

Gina Bryant, a 25-year-old from Macomb Township, was shot and killed by her ex, Justin Wendling, a 26-year-old doctor from the village of Holly, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday.

Wendling was a medical resident at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc Township, according to The Detroit News.

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Bryant left her medical assistant job on October 12 to go home for lunch but never returned, prompting her boss to notify authorities, her sister Angelica Gintner told The Detroit News.

"Coworkers became concerned when she did not return to work following her lunch break and they began receiving odd text messages from her phone," the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said of the call that came in for a missing person.

Justin Wendling was Waiting at Gina Bryant's Home 

The sheriff's office added that it was suspected that Bryant was with Wendling. Their investigation "revealed that the suspect had been waiting at the victim’s home when she returned for lunch," the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office stated, adding that "a neighbor’s surveillance video showed the suspect leading the victim to his vehicle" at around 1:42 p.m. on October 12.

The next day, on October 13, Wendling's parents got a phone call from him and told law enforcement officials that their son and the victim were in LaSalle, Illinois, at the time. "The suspect also stated he had killed the victim and was going to kill himself," the sheriff's office stated.

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Surveillance video and witnesses at a truck stop in LaSalle "confirmed that the suspect had shot and killed the victim" at around midnight on October 13, authorities said.

Wendling then fled to Bettendorf, Iowa, and as police there approached his car, he fatally shot himself, according to law enforcement. 

An Alleged History of Domestic Violence

Bryant's family said that Wendling had been abusing her for months before the murder. The ex-couple began dating a little less than a year ago, her sister Gintner told The Detroit News. Gintner added that Bryant lived with Wendling in Grand Blanc Township until late September. Gintner and Bryant's mom moved her out of the apartment after she revealed to them that Wendling had been abusing her, the grieving sibling said.

"She was very beautiful, down-to-earth, giving woman," Gintner told the local newspaper of her younger sister. "She could brighten up a day with just her smile. She'd give you the shirt off your back. She was caring and compassionate."

Gabriella Kovalcik, who described Bryant as her "dearest friend whose presence is already deeply missed" in a Facebook post, added that "Gina Bryant was a one of a kind soul with a heart of gold."

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Bryant was studying at the University of Michigan-Flint, where she was enrolled in the school's accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. "Gina was an extraordinary young woman with much ahead of her," Cynthia McCurren, dean of the School of Nursing, wrote in an email sent to faculty and Bryant's colleagues.

The Macomb County Sheriff's Office encouraged anyone in an unsafe situation, or who knows someone who is, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

“Unfortunately, the MCSO is seeing an uptick of domestic violence cases," Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham stated. "These incidents are tragic not only to the victims & survivors, but to family members as well. Please, if you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation, do not hesitate to reach out.” 

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