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How did Amanda Wienckowski die? Supporters of reopening the case say there's new evidence

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Activists and family of Amanda Wienckowski, found dead on Buffalo's East Side in 2008, are calling for authorities to reopen the case based upon new evidence.Reopen activists say Wienckowski, 20, was stun-gunned and then strangled by Antoine Garner, who lived across the street from where the tote containing her naked, frozen body was found. Garner is currently serving 18 years in prison for a series of violent sexual crimes.

Supporters of reopening the case say they have a new scientific report that doesn’t match the medical examiner’s report listing her death as an accidental overdose. The new report says that can’t be true, based on the county’s own toxicology tests, and that a lot of evidence, like numerous DNA samples, wasn't tested.

Led by cold case investigative reporter Gavin Fish, supporters say police knew who killed Wienckowski.

"They had their guy. They knew who it was and they were zeroing in on him when the Medical Examiner’s Office said, no, this was an accident," Fish said. "So we just need to change this cause of death and the manner of death and the police will be unshackled so that they can do their job and I have faith that they can do their job. They’re fantastic investigators."

Activist and Erie County Sheriff candidate Myles Carter says the case has to be revived.

Credit Chris Caya / WBFO News
Antoine Gardner (l) is sentenced for multiple crimes in May 2013.

"Today Antoine Garner is currently in jail. He’s in jail for sexual assault and strangulation and attempted murder, what I believe is what he’s currently in jail for. So his current crimes actually fit the same crime that several different coroners and medical examiners have said Amanda Wienckowski died from," Carter said.

Wienckowski’s mother, Leslie Brill-Meserole, says she can’t get justice.

"My daughter was murdered and I fight every day just to get closure, to be okay," she said. "We’re not going to get justice and you know what? I’m ashamed to say I’m part of this community, with Byron Brown, DA Flynn. I’ve reached out to them multiple, multiple times, every year."

The family and supporters are raising money to have the victim exhumed and sent to California to see if marks on her body are from a stun gun. Supporters say they have a witness who can testify Garner had a stun gun and used it.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he will reopen the case if there is credible evidence not known earlier.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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