Gwen Belcher, woman whose body was found in burned-out car was murdered, medical examiner says

New evidence from medical examiner

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Investigators have confirmed what the family of a Seffner woman suspected all along.  Gwen Belcher, mother of three, who was found dead in her burnt out car in September, was in fact murdered.

Without an official cause of death, investigators couldn't determine what kind of case they were dealing with, but now, with the medical examiner's determination of homicidal violence, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is proceeding to investigate the death of Gwen Belcher as a murder.

Belcher's skeletal remains were found in her burnt out car back in September, just a day after having a fight with her husband, Christopher Belcher.  Family members and friends desperately searched for her, until her body was found.

Larry McKinnon, spokesperson with HCSO says this new information is just enough to turn this into a murder investigation, upgraded from the suspicious death investigation it preliminarily was.

"The investigation is full forward, it has been from day one and we're going to continue this until we can bring someone to justice," says McKinnon.

That includes Christopher Belcher, who was released from jail Tuesday after the State Attorney's office elected to drop charges of domestic violence due to lack of evidence.  But we have been assured by the Sheriff's Office that this doesn't mean he's in the clear.

"We're going to look at him and we are going to look at anyone who may have had contact with her.  We know that she was missing for a period of time."

Sara Savage, a close friend of Gwen Belcher's, spoke with ABC Action News soon after Gwen's disappearance about her friend.

"We'd talk and we'd laugh and we'd talk and we'd laugh and it is all gone, just gone.  She don't deserve that , not her, not anyone, especially her because she was special to me."

HCSO says this is still a very active investigation at this time.

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