Brittany Stykes

Brittany Stykes the pregnant woman and her young daughter were shot while driving to visit family in 2013 and the crime remains unsolved.

On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, Brittany Stykes participated in a virtual job interview. In order to finish the interview, she decided to use the computer at her mother-in-house law’s in Bethel, Ohio, so that afternoon, she and her 14-month-old daughter, Aubree, drove the 30 miles from their home in Ripley.

Because she was expecting her second kid, Brittany left her job at Walmart a few months ago. The 22-year-old was overjoyed to hear back from the IRS after applying for a temporary position with the agency. She was optimistic after the online interview ended, thinking that maybe it had gone well. After supper with her mother-in-law, Brittany mentioned that she would be stopping by her own parents’ house on the way home.

At about 7:00 o’clock in the evening, Brittany left her in-laws’ house with a plate laden with Shawn’s favourite leftovers: chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. She buckled her daughter Aubree into the car seat, got into the driver’s seat of the family’s yellow Jeep Wrangler, and set off towards Ripley, where her parents lived. The day she left her husband, she stopped by her dad’s workplace to wish him a happy 49th birthday. She was never successful.

A motorist driving west on US 68 around 8 o’clock was astonished to see bright lights emerging from the woods on the other side of the road. Inquisitive, he turned around and stopped to find out more. The engine of a yellow Jeep was still running when he discovered it. He saw a woman inside who was obviously injured in a vehicle crash from the amount of blood she was coated in. The colour of her lips had faded to blue, and she was slouched over the wheel, giving the impression that she wasn’t breathing.

At 8:11 p.m., he dialed 911 and said, “There’s a Jeep in the woods. While waiting for emergency services to come, the man saw a tiny child sitting in the backseat of the Jeep and concluded that someone had apparently driven off the road into the woods and was passed out at the wheel. The little girl was bleeding all over, yet she was awake and calling out for her mother. The man had stumbled across Brittany and Aubree, though he didn’t realize it at the moment.

Brittany Stykes
Brittany Stykes

Around 8:20 p.m., police and EMTs showed up. Almost immediately, they realized that this was no ordinary car crash; Brittany and Aubree had been shot. There was absolutely nothing anyone could have done to save Brittany, and she was declared dead on the spot. Both her and the baby she was carrying passed away. In a desperate attempt to save Aubree’s life, paramedics transported her to the nearest hospital in Georgetown, Ohio, where she was subsequently evacuated to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

There were five bullet holes in Brittany’s Jeep’s driver-side door, suggesting that someone had fired at the vehicle from a distance. Brittany took hits to the neck and chest/right arm from two of the shots. A gunshot had struck Aubree once, entering her forehead and exiting her scalp. She miraculously stabilised after two quick operations, and her prognosis was good.

At 11:30 p.m., two deputies from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office knocked on Shane’s door to inform him that his wife Brittany had been murdered. Shane was instructed to join the deputies to the sheriff’s office after being informed that Brittany’s body had been discovered in her Jeep. Yes, he did.

After a long day at work at Star Manufacturing in West Chester Township, Shane said he hit the gym in Decatur, Ohio. Shane had returned home from the gym. When he arrived home, he wasn’t worried because he knew Brittany was at her parents’ place celebrating her father’s birthday. He had fallen asleep while waiting for her to return and awakened to find the police on his doorstep.

Shane has consented to a test for the presence of gunshot residue. After swabbing his hands, it was confirmed that he had not recently handled a firearm. As soon as he answered a few more questions, he was let go. He immediately contacted Brittany’s mother and father to deliver the devastating news before heading to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to be with their daughter.

Brittany Stykes
Aubree after she was shot (Photo credit:

The detectives had a hard time imagining a motive for shooting a pregnant woman and her young daughter from the beginning of their investigation. Brittany was an amiable young lady who had no apparent enemies. She was not a drunk or a drug user and had no involvement in any illegal activities. No one had any apparent motive for killing her.

As one of David and Mary Dodson’s five kids, Brittany was no exception. They were natives of the sleepy Ohio town of Ripley, where they were raised on a farm. They were a tightly knit bunch who shared nightly dinners and spent many weekend afternoons huddled around the board game table. Brittany took great pride in bringing some of the family’s pygmy goats to the annual Brown County Fair to show them off as part of the Future Farmers of America.

Brittany got a job at the neighbourhood Subway after she graduated from Ripley High School. Shane Stykes was one of her regulars. Though he was 15 years Brittany’s senior and she had two kids from a previous relationship, the two eventually became close and started dating in early 2011. Brittany got pregnant by the end of the year, and the couple tied the knot shortly thereafter.

According to Shane, the couple tied the knot on a whim in February of 2012, and they couldn’t be happier with their decision. Brittany finally gave birth to Aubree four months after she became pregnant. Brittany was overjoyed to become a mother, and the couple eventually set up housekeeping not far from Brittany’s parents. She took in Shane’s two sons, who were 6 and 14 at the time, and cared for them as if they were her own.

Brittany Stykes and her parents were very close, so while Shane was at work, she visited them almost every day. Dave Dobson, Brittany’s boyfriend, told a reporter, “Brittany was a big part of our lives…[I] woke up from a phone call from her every morning.” Dobson received his last text message from Brittany on the day she was murdered. A toast to your special day! What can I say? She said, “I’ll see you later in the day,” but was killed just 10 minutes after leaving for home.

Brittany stykes Jeep (Photo credit:

Brown County Chief Deputy John Schadle said at a press conference that his agency was exhausting all leads in its search for the person responsible for Brittany’s and Aubree’s deaths. Detectives admitted that nobody seemed like a prime suspect, despite their best efforts. They were unable to find anyone who had any reason to dislike Brittany, and Shane’s alibi checked out (three police officers had been working out in the same gym Shane went to and were able to confirm that he had been there at the time of the shooting).

Investigators submitted the case to Crime Stoppers in the hopes of generating fresh leads, and a $5,000 reward was offered for information that led to the killer’s capture and conviction. Although many leads were suggested, none were pursued.

After six weeks, detectives still had no leads that could lead to an arrest in the shooting. We do not have enough to say right now that this was random,” said Detective Sgt. Buddy Moore. Do you think she was the intended victim? They were clueless as to the origin of the gunfire, which could have come from a moving vehicle or a person standing on the other side of the highway. It was either a deliberate strike or a terrible accident. Quite simply, they were unaware.

The possibility that Brittany was shot during a road rage incident was one of the many hypotheses put forth. There was no evidence that she was being followed at the time, but they did find surveillance footage of her Jeep passing the Georgetown Police Department and then a McDonald’s restaurant on Ohio 125.

It was at this point that Shane was once again the focus of the investigation as detectives struggled to find new leads. Even though they claimed they had never received a call about domestic or otherwise, they couldn’t help but wonder if there was trouble in the marriage that they weren’t aware of. Although the results of the DNA test on Brittany’s unborn child weren’t made public, it’s likely that the father is Shane. When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office simply said, “There was nothing to look into.”

Brittany Stykes

In relation to the case, detectives conducted a number of polygraph tests. As a result of two successful polygraph tests, Shane was no longer considered a suspect. Besides Brittany, a third person whose identity was never disclosed was also tested. They both failed, putting the investigators’ back at the beginning of the process.

Shane told the press that he and his wife were overjoyed to be expecting their second child. He was honest about the fact that they had had financial difficulties due to relying solely on his salary, but they had managed to make ends meet, and Brittany had felt confident that she would be hired by the IRS after her interview. According to the investigation, the lack of life insurance on Brittany’s part rules out any financial motive for her murder.

The frustration of Brittany’s family grew as the weeks and then the months passed without any news. Mary told the reporter that she and her husband were doing anything they could to find out who had murdered their daughter and their unborn grandchild. Someone bad did it, and they stole something that wasn’t theirs to begin with. Time will not heal the void in my heart; this should never have happened.

Officials in Brown County, Florida, stated that witnesses had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in connection with the murder in November 2013. A former girlfriend of Shane’s was subpoenaed, though it was unclear what evidence the authorities hoped to glean from her. She was one of three people who were hesitant to speak with detectives, and their identities remained hidden.

It had been a full year since the crime, and nothing new had been discovered in the case. The murder weapon has not been determined, and detectives have not located any shell casings from the shooting. They did not reveal whether or not they had any suspects. However, Shane told the press that he was certain he had identified the killer of his wife.

brittany stykes

According to Shane, he divulged the suspected killer’s name to the police. He said he knew the suspect, but “not on a personal level,” and he was critical of the police for not acting on the information he had provided. It’s been months and this still isn’t done.

Although they declined to elaborate, detectives insisted that they had followed up on Shane’s tip. They told the press that they had investigated more than 70 leads and were developing a theory that they hoped would help them solve the case soon, but they were cagey about providing any further details. Unfortunately, it appears their confidence was unwarranted, as the case is still open.

The investigation stalled and eventually went cold, so even though the crime was horrific, it was quickly forgotten. The investigation was still ongoing behind the scenes, but the detectives had nothing new to report.

As part of the ongoing investigation into Brittany’s murder, authorities raided a home in Falmouth, Kentucky in September 2015, but whatever evidence they uncovered was not made public and no one was arrested as a result. This case has once again gone cold.

At a press conference in January of 2017, Brown County officials said they were renewing their efforts to find Brittany’s killer. A spokesperson for the investigation said they were dedicating more resources to finding the killer. Someone has information, they said, and the reward was increased to $20,000. The increased reward and subsequent publicity surge did not yield any useful leads.

To date, the case remains unsolved. Nine years after Brittany was brutally shot and killed while on her way to celebrate her father’s birthday, detectives still have no idea if it was a targeted killing, a tragic case of mistaken identity, or a freak accident.

Brittany Dobson Stykes was 22 years old and 5 months pregnant when she was killed in 2013. She was a friendly young woman who was devoted to being the best mother possible. Her death had a devastating effect on her family and they are desperate to find her killer. Her daughter, Aubree, has fully recovered from her wounds but constantly asks questions about her mother’s death; detectives want nothing more than to be able to provide her with answers. If you have any information about Brittany’s murder, please contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Office at 937–378–4435.

Source: Jenn Baxter

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