On March 17, 2021, a confidential source contacted a detective in the Bremerton, Washington Police Department with a tip. The source said they had been on a “compound” with several other people a month or two earlier, and that three of the people had “solicited the source to lure a male who they intended to capture, kill, and dispose of the body,” according to court filings.
The source told investigators that the target of the plot was a “tall, skinny Black male in his twenties who may go by ‘Dre.’” Apparently, a drug deal had gone bad at some point earlier, and someone needed to be taught a lesson. The source said the group planned to bury the body at the compound, where the source claimed to have seen firearms and narcotics. The source declined to participate in the mission, and police didn’t think they had enough information to take further action.
Now, Amber Lynn Ableman, 30, is facing first-degree kidnapping charges related to the disappearance of Andre “Dre” Coleman. Coleman, who went missing in March and whose body has not been found, is presumed dead by authorities cited by the Kitsap Sun, which first reported on the case. His alleged killer? Ableman’s fiancé, Steven Earl Kerr, an enforcer for a local motorcycle gang who was himself shot dead a month after Coleman—a former local high school basketball hero who had fallen on tough times—vanished. And while Ableman’s arrest is a rare bit of good news for Coleman’s family, countless questions about his final days remain.
“I just want my son to be home for us to properly say goodbye,” Coleman’s mother, Leslie Taganas, told The Daily Beast, adding that she had never heard Amber Ableman’s name before Ableman was fingered in Coleman’s murder.
Ableman, who pleaded not guilty, has not yet been assigned a public defender and was unable to be reached.
About five weeks after the unnamed source got in touch with Bremerton detectives with the tip about “Dre,” a local woman called cops to report a missing person. The caller identified herself as Marissa Hurde, and said she hadn’t heard from her ex-boyfriend and father of her child in nearly six weeks. His name was Andre Coleman, and he was 28 years old.
Hurde, who was unable to be reached for comment, told police that Coleman had a drug problem and that he was “often homeless.” Still, she said, he contacted her daily, regardless of the circumstances. But Hurde hadn’t heard from Coleman since March 1, and she was getting worried.
Hurde guessed Coleman’s Facebook password, and got into his account, states a police affidavit attached to a charging document in Ableman’s case. There, she “found messages from numerous individuals who were upset with Coleman and some had made threats.” All of them had “involvements in our database related to criminal activity and drug offenses.”
“My son was struggling with addiction really bad,” Taganas told The Daily Beast. “When he was high, he was very mean and wasn't allowed around my half of the family. But his sober times—when he was sober, he was funny, he could light up a dark room. He could rap, he was a great basketball player, he just got caught up in drugs. We put him in several treatment centers. They didn’t work. But he was a great kid. He was my baby boy.”
Detectives ruled out as suspects just about everyone in those chats, except for one.
“Of note is [sic] conversations Coleman had with Amber Ableman via Facebook on the day he disappeared,” says the affidavit charging Ableman with first-degree kidnapping, a felony. “It is notable because Ableman was the last person Coleman messaged on Facebook, and Ableman was to meet up with Coleman on the day he disappeared.”
The affidavit is signed by Det. Brock Gorang of the Bremerton PD. Reached by phone, Gorang declined to comment, citing departmental policy.
Detectives got a search warrant to dig in further to Coleman’s Facebook activity, which revealed Ableman had first contacted Coleman on Feb. 21, asking him if he could get her drugs, the affidavit states. It was obvious that the two were communicating for the first time, and Ableman said a mutual friend had told her to message Coleman. However, when he messaged the mutual friend to confirm this, the friend said it wasn’t true.
In the early morning hours of March 1, Coleman initiated a new conversation with Ableman over Facebook. They arranged to meet at a nearby grocery store, then head to the Flagship Motel, according to the affidavit. Ableman said she had to wait for her boyfriend to go to sleep before she could sneak away. Coleman sent Ableman a picture of a bag containing what appeared to be methamphetamine, and told her that he “might be naked when he shows up and Ableman would probably leave her boyfriend after being with him.”
“You sound pretty sure of yourself there bud,” Ableman reportedly replied. “But I can’t find out if idk where to go lmao.”
At around 12:30 a.m., Ableman messaged Coleman to say she’d pick him up shortly, and that she would be driving a white Ford Expedition. Coleman left the house and never came back.
“It appears Amber Ableman contacted Coleman with the purpose of delivering him to Steven Kerr, who intended to kill Coleman,” the affidavit states.
“Steve,” in this instance, was Steven Earl Kerr, who is described in court records as an “enforcer” for the Free Souls, a West Coast outlaw biker club, and Ableman’s husband-to-be. On Apr. 14, Hurde contacted Ableman on Facebook, according to the affidavit.
“We aren’t together anymore I am his baby’s mom but his family is worried sick hes been missing for a while now...no one has heard from him,” Hurde reportedly wrote. “Didn’t you meet up with him? Any info you can provide would seriously help. Look theres a missing persons report and you were one of the last people to meet him. Please respond.”
Ableman wrote back: “Look I apologize I haven’t been on here much. My husband just got murdered so its hard to wake up every day let alone get on social media. I’m not hiding and im sorry youre worried but can I get back to you later? … I’m not trying to be insensitive but the last thing I need is more cops up my ass.”
“I get it I’m really so sorry about Steve,” Hurde replied. “I hope you can understand my worries here.”
Kerr, 39, had been shot and killed on Apr. 5 as he changed a tire on his truck, according to court filings. The suspect fled the scene on a white Harley-Davidson, wearing a black motorcycle jacket with a Free Souls patch on the back. When a police officer tried to pull the rider over, who was not wearing a helmet and riding erratically, the bike sped away. But not before the officer—who was not yet aware that the biker had allegedly been involved in a shooting—was able to run its license plate, which showed the Harley was registered to an Andrew Luke Wright of Vashon Island, Washington.
Two days later, Wright, 51, turned himself in to police. He was charged with second-degree murder in Kerr’s death, and first-degree assault for shooting at a witness who escaped injury, according to court filings. Wright pleaded not guilty. His bail was set at $1.5 million; he is due back in court Aug. 31. Witnesses told cops they didn’t know what led to the gunplay. Wright’s attorney, Adrian Pimentel, did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
It is unclear if Kerr’s killing was linked in any way to Coleman’s, and police have not revealed a motive. But as both investigations progressed, investigators discovered that the white Ford Expedition Ableman drove to pick up Coleman was owned by an ex-girlfriend of Kerr’s. Kerr’s family told police that Kerr and his ex were still on good terms, and that the woman frequently let Ableman borrow her Expedition.
Kerr also had an ex-wife, Amanda, who broke the case open for investigators. During an interview with detectives, she said that Kerr on Mar. 13 had “confessed to her that he (Steven) murdered someone,” says the charging document in Ableman’s case. “Steven stated that he beat the male to death at his (Steven’s) property in Tahuya.” In a separate interview, Kerr’s ex-girlfriend told investigators that Kerr had confessed the murder to her, as well. When she asked what happened to the body, Kerr reportedly responded, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
However, investigators were having a tough time tracking down Ableman, who a family member said was avoiding police. In the meantime, authorities got search warrants for both Kerr’s and Ableman’s mobile phones. A subsequent analysis showed that the two had been in “constant communication with each other before and during the time frame Ableman was to meet with Coleman,” and were “in proximity to each other while Ableman was meeting with Andre Coleman,” states the affidavit. When they searched Ableman’s Facebook account, investigators discovered messages between Ableman and her father, who encouraged her to speak with police about what she knew. Ableman refused.
While executing a search warrant in June, police came close to arresting a woman they believed was Ableman. However, she ran away before officers could grab her, according to the affidavit.
On July 7, detectives received a tip that Ableman was hiding out at Kerr’s ex-girlfriend’s place. When police showed up, Ableman tried to elude them by ducking into a bedroom.
“I checked that bedroom and found Ableman hiding under the covers of a bed,” the affidavit states. “When I pulled the covers off, Ableman acted as if she was asleep and did not hear the police calling for her.”
Ableman was arrested without incident. She is being held on $500,000 bail.
“Ableman had no visible emotional change, nor did she ask any questions,” states the affidavit. “In my experience when someone is accused of a crime they did not commit they protest their innocence or ask for clarification. Ableman did neither.”
Ableman is due to appear in court on Aug. 3. Andre Coleman’s mom said it’s already on her calendar.
“I’m still trying to process everything,” Leslie Taganas told The Daily Beast. “They arrested Amber, and I will be at all her court dates.”