Death investigation re-opened by D. A. - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Death investigation re-opened by D. A.

District Attorney Greg Edwards District Attorney Greg Edwards
James Eppler James Eppler
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The Dougherty District Attorney is reopening the investigation into the death of a Marine's wife three years ago, hoping to answer lingering questions.

Natalie Eppler died from a gunshot wound to her head in February 2011. Her husband, 25-year old Sgt. James Eppler, was initially charged with murder. Those charges were dropped when her death was ruled a suicide.

But her family never believed she committed suicide. They welcome the District Attorney's decision today to conduct new forensic tests on evidence.

Eppler's Mother Rebecca Holland, said from Amherst, Ohio, that she would, "Fight for her. Fight for justice. Do anything I can to obtain justice for her. I will never, ever, ever stop in our quest."

Holland says the family spent more than $5,500 hiring expert forensic pathologists and investigators to go over the evidence.

Police say that night three years ago, after arguing in an Albany club with her husband Sgt. James Eppler, Natalie died from a single .40 caliber gunshot to the head in the bedroom of their home on West Gordon Avenue. James Eppler was charged with murder that night. Three months later those charges were dropped, when GBI agents ruled that her death was a suicide.

Eppler's uncle Mark Burd said, "Everybody thought she was just some drunken girl that just couldn't handle it, and blew her brains out, for no better way to put it. And that's not true."

The family has for years asked for further investigation into Natalie's death, and today District Attorney Greg Edwards said he plans to have more forensic investigations done.

Edwards said, "We want to be able to consider any new evidence that might be developed, or any new forensic techniques that might be developed that would lead us to further certainty about what may have happened."

Eppler's family says Natalie had all her belongings packed and loaded in her car, including her father's cremated remains, when she died inside the house.

The D.A. says Eppler's death remains an open case.  "We want to find the truth. That's my mission, is to find the truth. Whatever it might be."

James Eppler left the Marines, and filed a $5 million lawsuit against the city of Albany, but the suit was dismissed. One of Natalie's aunts pled guilty in April 2012 to trying to hire a hit man to murder James Eppler.

The D. A. would not go into details on the kinds of forensic investigation he plans. James Eppler is still listed as the owner of the home on West Gordon, but today there is a notice on the door to reclaim the property as abandoned.

 

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