‘She’s at peace.’: Family of Dystynee Avery bringing her home

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:33 PM CDT
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The family of a murdered Moorhead teen is taking their first steps to healing today— Traveling over 900 miles to take home and lay to rest the remains of 19-year-old Dystynee Avery.

“I mean it sucks to have to come get my daughter this way and to have to say goodbye this way, but at least I know that she’s not hurting anymore and that she’s at peace,” Doreen Avery, Dystynee's mom said.

26-year-old Ethan Broad is behind bars after police say he admitted to killing Avery, dismembering her body and throwing it in the trash back in April.

26-year-old Andrea Payne, 22-year-old David Erno and 33-year-old Brandon Erbstoesser also remain at the Clay County Jail after court documents say the three knew about Avery's murder and helped cover it up for weeks.

It’s almost been exactly four months since Doreen Avery unknowingly spoke to her daughter for the last time, and four months she’s spent fighting with Clay County officials to be able to get her daughter’s remains back home to Colorado.

“I fought and fought and fought to be able to bring her home and I wasn’t going to give up until they let me bring her home. It’s not fair to Dystynee to be on some frozen slab while (the suspects) get to have continuance after continuance because they want to drag this out. Dystynee needs to be at home and be at peace,” Doreen said.

Doreen finally got the green light earlier this month, but before starting the journey to healing the family wanted to close a different chapter. Doreen, stepfather Shawn Gilliland and sister Chloey Avery held a small candle light vigil Sunday night at the Moorhead apartment dumpsters officials say Avery’s dismembered body was thrown into.

“I’m happy that I get to tell her goodbye, but at the same time, I want her back. It’s not the same,” Doreen said.

This was the family’s first trip to the Fargo-Moorhead area. They say they spent most of the time driving around to the many places Dystynee told them about in the past and reflecting on some of their favorite memories.

“This was the last place she was and it was hard to not to have her run out the door yelling, ‘Mom, Dad, Chloey! You guys came to visit!'” Shawn said.

“There’s going to be certain days that just certain things remind me of her and I’m just going to miss her even more,” Doreen said.

Dystynee’s family picked up her remains Monday morning before heading to the Moorhead Police Department to meet lead investigator Shaun Van Dyke for the first time. Doreen and Shawn said they wanted to thank Detective Van Dyke for the healing he helped bring their family.

“If it wasn’t for him and his investigation we wouldn’t have our daughter right now, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. We would still be guessing and trying to figure out what’s going on,” Doreen said.

Although a difficult trip, Doreen says it was important to bring Dystynee home before the possibility of any trials, and says this is closest she’s ever felt to closure.

“I have my daughter with me. Regardless of the condition, she’s with me,” she said.

Doreen says Dystynee will be laid to rest on her 20th birthday in August.

Ethan Broad is set to be in court again Tuesday, with the other three defendants later next month.

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