Brittany Locklear

Brittany Locklear was just five years old when she was kidnapped and murdered near her North Carolina home while waiting for the school bus. Could the DNA sample they collected provide clues to her unsolved murder after more than two decades?

Brittany Locklear

Sadly, the murder of Brittany Locklear is now being exploited as a talking point in local elections, leaving her mother unhappy that no answers have been provided.

Brittany Locklear was given the nickname “Little Brittany” by her classmates and instructors at West Hoke Elementary School, which is less than 30 miles from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Brittany, the youngest and smallest kindergartener at age 5, had a large personality and an independent streak, and she was noted for always smiling and giving the nicest hugs.

Brittany, a member of the Lumbee tribe, was captivated by the legend of Pocahontas. According to the history and culture of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the tribe consists of four surrounding counties: Robeson, Scotland, Cumberland, and Hoke – the counties where Brittany’s family resided in Bowmore, North Carolina.

At home, Brittany had a half-sister, Brianna, who was 18 months old. Brittany’s kidnapping has had a lasting impact on Brianna’s life; she learned to shoot a gun at the age of 3, never waited for a bus alone, and always had a family member watch her get off the bus.

The day Brittany Disappeared

Brittany’s mother, Connie Locklear Chavis, awoke at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, January 7, 1998, to get Brittany ready for school. Together, they selected her attire, which consisted of a green and white softball T-shirt, green denim coveralls, green and pink tennis shoes, white socks, and a green hair tie. When it was time to leave the house, Connie assisted Brittany in donning her Little Red Riding Hood winter coat. They then walked less than 500 feet from the Locklear residence to the bus stop, which was located at the end of her driveway.

Brittany locklear

At 7:00 AM, her mother made what seemed like a harmless choice: she went inside to use the bathroom before the bus came. But Brittany wasn’t there when Connie came back. Connie thought at first that her daughter had caught the bus, so she ran to West Hoke Elementary School to double-check. When she got there, school officials told her that her daughter had never shown up. The thought hit her. Brittany was taken away.

Connie called the police right away to report that Brittany was missing. To her horror, she found out that neighbors had seen a pickup truck slam on its brakes at the end of the driveway, then a man jump out, grab Brittany, and speed away.

The town was shocked to hear that Brittany had gone missing so early on a Wednesday morning, and a large ground search began right away. By 9:00 AM that same morning, Brittany’s clothes were found on a dirt road about two miles away from her home.

Did Brittany know who took her away? Had she been picked out, or did it just happen? Since it was so early in the morning, could someone who knew her schedule and saw an opening have planned this?

When Brittany was discovered

The next day, on January 9, 1998, around 2:00 p.m., Brittany’s naked body was found in a drainage ditch along a road three miles from her home. Her autopsy showed that she might have been sexually assaulted and that she drowned in the drainage ditch. The police took this evidence and talked to registered sex offenders within a 50-mile radius.

Early on, many tips were given, but none of them helped solve her case. Then, in 2002, a firefighter in Fort Bragg was arrested for robbing a bank. This was the first clue that helped solve the case. Later, investigators looked in Brittany’s locker at the fire station and found a picture of him there. So, the firefighter’s DNA did not match the biological evidence found near where Brittany was found at the crime scene. This person was later cleared as a suspect, and the photo was a clipping from a newspaper about her case.

On January 23, 2015, the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office said they had enough DNA evidence to make a genetic profile of the person who killed Brittany. This was the next big break in the case.

Has the DNA evidence been submitted to public databases? Could a forensic genetic profile be created to identify her murderer?

Where the case stands today

Brittany’s mother has said that she doesn’t like how local officials and politicians have used her daughter’s murder to talk about public safety. This has made the community want justice again.

Brittany locklear

At the moment, a $20,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who killed Brittany Locklear. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Indigenous women and girls are murdered at rates 10 times higher than all other ethnicities. Murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women and girls.

According to a report from the National Institute of Justice, more than 80% of Indigenous women have been hurt by violence, and more than 50% of Indigenous women have been sexually abused at some point in their lives. Sobering numbers, and even harder to read when put in the context of a 5-year-old.

If you have any information about what happened to Brittany Locklear, please contact the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at 1–800–334–3000.

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