The Journal Gazette
Thursday, September 30, 2021 1:00 am

Family reeling after fatal shooting

Fiancé, father killed on birthday; leaves 4 kids, baby on way

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Every time Amanda Erhardt has returned from the funeral home over the past week, her 4-year-old has the same question.

“Why didn't you bring Daddy home?” Annabella asks.

“I explain it to them over again every day,” Erhardt said.

William Erhardt died about 2 a.m. Sept. 22 from one gunshot to the chest. He had gone out to celebrate his birthday with a friend, John Vires, at A&O Sweet Shop Tavern on High Street. He was shot at Vires' home.

Vires, 37, was arrested and charged with murder and using a firearm to commit an offense where death results. He was being held at the Allen County Jail. His next court hearing is Oct. 13.

Amanda Erhardt and William Erhardt, the man she referred to as her fiancé, had been together for 13 years and were raising four children together. A fifth child, a baby boy to be named Holland, is due Jan. 22.

Amanda Erhardt said the family celebrated her fiancé's birthday on the night he was killed.

“He was going to go out and have a few drinks with John. They've been friends for years. I don't have no clue what the argument was about or what led to an argument,” she said.

When her fiancé didn't call or come home, Erhardt started to worry. The next morning, she checked the news and saw Vires' house on Franklin Avenue.

Vires has claimed self-defense in the shooting, but homicide Sgt. Timothy Hughes said evidence indicated otherwise.

Erhardt is struggling to reconcile that night's events with the man who visited her home.

“He was around our kids,” she said. “John (Vires) would help with the yard.”

Erhardt appreciates the Fort Wayne Police Department's quick action in putting the man who admitted to shooting her fiancé behind bars.

“We've been working with Detective Ben Miller, who's given us some information. I'm very thankful and grateful they were on top of that,” she said.

When Vires bonded out of the jail on an initial aggravated battery charge, “they rearrested him like the next day; went and got him again,” she said.

But that good news goes only so far.

Erhardt is “still in a daze and a dreamy state,” she said. Her four children attend Lutheran schools here, and the schools have been supportive, sending gift cards for food and helping set up counseling.

“I've heard a lot about Erin's House,” she said, referring to the nonprofit that works with grieving children.

The school is going to help her with winter clothing and uniforms for the children. For the baby, she has a few things.

“My dad picked up a few things just because he felt it was a boy. And it was true, he's going to be a boy,” she said.

But when people ask Erhardt if she needs anything, she doesn't know what to say.

“I honestly don't know where to begin or what I need,” she said.

She has reached out to her mortgage company, hoping she can get help until she can get on her feet and find a job.

“I don't even know how I'm going to go on,” she added.

Erhardt has created a GoFundMe account called “Loving Father and Husband Murdered,” which has raised about $2,000. The goal is $20,000.

“You don't expect to be with someone for so long, build your routine around someone else,” and lose them, she said. “Birthdays and holidays, they just will never be the same.”

Neither will her children's lives. Annabella, the 4-year-old, has been telling her mother her dreams.

Annabella said she saw her father, “but he was invisible. He gave her a kiss and told her he loved her,” Erhardt said through tears. “I just told her she was going to see her daddy a lot in her dreams. He was always going to be with her in spirit.”

“I just keep telling the kids how much he loved them.”

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