A devoted nursing student in Michigan was abducted and murdered by her violent former partner, a physician, who shot her in the head in Illinois before killing himself in Iowa after phoning his parents.
Dr. Justin Wendling, 26, of Holly, Michigan, killed University of Michigan-Flint student Gina Nicole Bryant, 25, on October 13 at a La Salle, Illinois, gas station, according to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we write this post,” Charlotte Jolly, who described herself as Bryant’s best friend, wrote on Facebook. “The family has suffered an unspeakable and tragic loss due to domestic violence.”
Wendling, a medical resident at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc Township, “was responsible for the homicide based on our investigation,” according to La Salle Detective Sgt. Brian Camenisch, who made this confirmation for the Detroit News.
The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office said that Bryant was reported missing on October 12 after her coworkers became worried after she failed to show up for work as a medical assistant after her lunch break and started sending them strange messages on her phone.
When Bryant came home for lunch, Wendling was waiting for her, according to a sheriff’s office investigation.
The following day, he reportedly called his parents and told them he had killed his ex-girlfriend and was going to kill himself.
The parents notified authorities of Wendling’s location in LaSalle, his hometown.
“Tragically, surveillance video and witnesses from a truck stop in LaSalle, Ill., confirmed that the suspect had shot and killed the victim at approximately 12:00 a.m. on 10/13/2023,” the sheriff’s office said.
“The suspect then fled to Bettendorf, Iowa. It was reported to the MCSO that as local officers approached the vehicle, the suspect shot and killed himself,” police added.
After they started dating 11 months ago, Bryant moved in with Wendling in Grand Blanc Township, according to her older sister Angelica Gintner, who spoke with the Detroit News.
Bryant informed her parents that Wendling had been beating her for months, and they transferred her out of the apartment in late September, the source reported.
“She was very beautiful, down-to-earth, giving woman,” Gintner said. “She could brighten up a day with just her smile. She’d give you the shirt off your back. She was caring and compassionate.”
Although Wendling’s family has refrained from commenting, Ascension Genesys Hospital authorities revealed in a statement that “we recently learned of the death of one of our residents.”
“Emotional and spiritual support services are being offered to staff and providers during this difficult time. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement,” spokeswoman Christine Gleason told the Detroit News.
Bryant attended the rigorous International Academy in Oakland County, where she met one of her best friends, Courtney Pefley, 25.
“She was the best possible friend you could have. She was always looking out for you. You picked up the phone, she would be there,” Pefley told the news outlet.
After graduating cum laude from Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights in 2016, Bryant attended Grand Valley State University and graduated in 2020.
At the time of her death, she was a student in UM-Flint’s accelerated bachelor of science nursing program, school spokesman Robb King told the Detroit News.
Nursing school dean Cynthia McCurren sent an email to Bryant’s colleagues and faculty, saying she was “heartbroken” to learn about her death.
“There are truly no words to fully capture the anguish that losses like this cause our community,” McCurren said. “Gina was an extraordinary young woman with much ahead of her.”