Six years after woman's naked, frozen body is found in garbage tote, police release files

Victim's mother still believes it was a homicide

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The controversy over the death of 20-year-old Amanda Lynn Wienckowski has continued since her naked and frozen body was found stuffed into a garbage tote behind a Buffalo church in January 2009.

The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that the death was the result of an accidental overdose, and no one was ever charged for improperly disposing of her body.

However, forensic pathologists hired by the Wienckowski family disagreed, claiming evidence showed a strong possibility that Amanda had been strangled.

Over the past six years, Amanda's mother, Leslie Brill-Meserole, has fought to see the evidence and information collected as part of the investigation into her daughter’s death.

"I cannot give up and I never will," said Leslie Brill-Meserole. "It has been a battle all the way through. I want the facts and I want the facts in front of me."

Tuesday afternoon, Brill-Meserole's determination paid off when Buffalo Police turned over 1,225 pages of documents and a DVD about the investigation to comply with a Freedom of Information Request submitted by Amanda's mother and verified by the courts.

"I do not understand why for six years I had to fight every day for answers. I just want to know what happened to Amanda,” added the victim’s mother who is also the administrator for her daughters estate.

Not included in the release of information was the coroner’s report or body photos - something that angered the Wienckowski family which now plans to go to State Supreme Court and file an Article 78 Petition seeking the information from Erie County and New York State Police.

Buffalo Police maintain the investigation is still active and all documents required to be turned over as part of the Freedom of Information request were supplied to Amanda’s mother. Unknown is why it took so long for the information to be shared since police no longer considered the case to be a homicide once the medical examiner ruled it was accidental.

While no charges were ever filed in connection with Amanda Wienckowski’s death, authorities did name Antoine Garner a person of interest because they believed he was the last person to see Amanda alive before her body was found across the street from his Spring Street home in Buffalo.

Investigators thought the young woman was dropped off at Garner’s home for a paid sexual encounter prior to her death.

Garner is now serving an 18-year prison sentence after being convicted for rape, strangulation, and robbery in separate cases.

“I know Amanda was killed,” commented her mother who has filed an Article 78 Petition in NYS Supreme Court to get information about Garner’s associations and contacts while incarcerated. “I would like to know who he’s been associated with and see if those names appear in the police reports,” explained Leslie Brill-Meserole.

A hearing on the petition is scheduled for July.

The release of Buffalo Police files also coincides with the recent passage of “Amanda’s Law” by the New York State Legislature. Once signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the law will make it a felony to conceal or dispose of a dead body without a permit. Right now, the crime is only considered a misdemeanor.

“This way people will think twice and hopefully no one else will ever have to find their loved-ones body thrown in the trash,” commented Leslie Brill-Meserole.

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