Georgia man killed girlfriend, disposed of body with family help after she discovered secret marriage: police

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A Georgia mother was strangled to death, then burned in Tennessee March 17 by her boyfriend after she confronted him about secretly marrying another woman in January, investigators alleged this week. 

Michale Edwards, 23, has been charged with murder in the death of Briana Winston, Clayton County police said at a Monday press conference. Edwards’ wife Brieanna Phillips-Edwards, his 18-year-old brother Keilan Wright and his mother Ebony Anderson also face criminal charges in her disappearance, authorities said.

Investigators believe Winston was choked to death during an early morning argument with Edwards, the father of her four-year-old child, in her College Park apartment about his alleged infidelity on March 17. 

Edwards then stuffed her body into a suitcase, then drove in his wife’s car to a friend’s home 430 miles away in Gates, Tennessee, and that friend helped Edwards burn the body in a barrel, Lieutenant Ashanti Marbury said on Monday.

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The friend later told police, on condition of immunity, that he and Edwards disposed of the woman’s remains in two different areas, investigators said.

Edwards was arrested on an unrelated aggravated stalking charge on April 8. When he learned behind bars that he was a suspect in Winston’s murder, Marbury said, he enlisted his relatives to help him cover his tracks. 

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“It turned into a family affair,” Marbury said. “He definitely looped everyone into this crime.” 

He was caught asking his wife to burn a pair of shoes and gloves that were used when he destroyed his girlfriend’s body. Phillips-Edwards faces several charges, including party to commission of a crime-murder, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.

In turn, Phillips-Edwards enlisted Edwards’ mother and brother to help her burn the evidence, authorities said at the press conference. Now, both are facing conspiracy charges. 

Winston was reported missing on April 1 after her family learned that she stopped showing up for work on March 17, then found her apartment entirely empty. One family member told Fox 5 Atlanta that the apartment reeked of bleach. 

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The Clayton County Police Department felt they had enough information to determine Winston was dead on April 26, writing in a press release that she was “the victim of a crime that left her incapacitated in some way” and that “all points of evidence indicate that she is deceased.”

Winston’s family was present at the press conference, and although they didn’t speak on camera, they told Fox 5 Atlanta that they were grateful to know what happened.

“I just don’t see how it could happen to a beautiful young woman who is trying to do everything by herself,” Ann Thomas, Winston’s grandmother, previously told the station. “She was real sweet, loving, adorable, really attentive, loved her baby to the death.”

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Jasmine Walker, Winston’s cousin, told Atlanta News First that the last few months have been difficult for their family. 

“I’ve just been crying every night because I wasn’t there to help her,” Walker told the outlet. “I wasn’t going to sleep until she was found, and I’m not going to give up until justice is served.”