Detectives turn to new technology in case of murdered pregnant woman

The 22-year-old expecting mother was shot to death in 2013 while driving with her young daughter in Brown County.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:44 PM EDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - As the 10-year anniversary of the murder of Brittany Stykes approaches, her case is continuing to gain traction on social media and is getting national publicity.

Meanwhile, detectives are using new technology in hopes of developing new leads in the case.

It was Aug. 28, 2013, when Stykes was killed in an ambush-style attack. She was driving on OH-68 in Brown County, heading to her parents’ home to celebrate her dad’s birthday, when it happened.

Mary Dodson, Stykes’ mother, still remembers the last conversation she had with Stykes that day. They were talking on the phone.

“I said, ‘Well honey, I love you. You have a good day.’ And she says, ‘I will mom, I love you too.’ And that was the last thing I talked to her,” Mary said.

Investigators with the Brown County Sheriff’s office believe security camera footage shows what was likely the last time Stykes was seen alive. It captured Stykes driving just a short time before she was discovered dead.

That day, Stykes was driving a yellow Jeep with her daughter, Aubree, in tow, when someone shot her multiple times. Craig LaBell and his wife were driving by when they spotted the Jeep off the road in a wooded area. They stopped and found Stykes dead at the wheel.

Adding to the heartbreak, Stykes was pregnant when she died, and Aubree, who was 18-months-old, had been shot in the head.

Miraculously, Aubree survived.

“Brittany took one baby with her when she went, and the Lord left one with us,” Mary said.

Mary and Dave Dodson never expected to lose a child, especially at a young age.

“Brittany was such an innocent soul. She had such a loving, caring, innocent soul. She was 22 years old. She was a baby. She’d just started life. She’d not left, not left my apron strings yet. She was still holding on tight to me and her daddy,” Mary said.

Ever since the murder, Dave says celebrating his birthday has been tough.

“The first seven years after, the birthday was just kind of non celebrated,” he said.

According to detectives, the initial investigation pointed them toward Stykes’ husband at the time, Shane Stykes. Shane spoke with FOX19 in 2018, stating he did not murder his wife.

Detectives confirmed they have interviewed him and conducted lie detector tests. Although they say no one has been officially cleared, they describe Shane as cooperative.

With no shell casings found at the scene, and little evidence left behind, detectives have pursued numerous theories. They looked into a road rage confrontation that reportedly involved Stykes and happened earlier in the day, but that did not lead to an arrest.

In 2015, they were told a man named Tommy Lee Lopez had been hired to kill Stykes. However, that turned out to be a hoax.

Detective Quinn Carlson, currently on the case, says right now they are using very new technology, hoping it will bring them new leads. He cannot say what the technology entails but reveals they are putting together data that could help pinpoint where people were when Stykes died.

Stykes’ relatives remain focused on bringing attention to her case. The Dodsons honor Stykes with memorials and celebrations every year.

“We all get together on the holidays, but there’s always an empty feeling, and, you know, it just, everything’s different,” Dave said. “Your outlook on life becomes totally different.”

[RELATED: Vigil held on six year anniversary of Brittany Stykes’ murder]

It is a tradition that means a lot to Stykes’ younger sister, Emily Hampton.

“I was really close with Brittany. I was like her little shadow. Anything she did or anywhere she went, she took me with her. We did everything together,” Hampton said.

When Mary and Dave briefly considered putting the events on pause, Hampton took matters into her own hands. She started a Facebook group where anyone can talk about the investigation or about Stykes. That led to Stykes’ case being featured on several nationally-known podcasts and news programs.

“There’s people from Ukraine, there’s people from Australia, all around the world that’s all of a sudden, that are following this,” Dave said.

There is a $50,000 reward for information in the case.

Stykes’ family members want answers for themselves, but more than anything, they want them for 10-year-old Aubree.

“She is definitely a smartmouth little version of her mom. She has the craziest attitude, and she’s super mouthy and just really outgoing and loud. She holds nothing back. She’s been through a lot of trauma, but it definitely does not stop her,” Hampton said.

Until that day comes, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure Stykes is never forgotten.

Mary believes she knows, in her heart, who took her daughter’s life, but she does not say more than that to avoid impacting the investigation.

As for some of the evidence in the case, Shane Stykes sued the Brown County Sheriff’s Office in recent years to get the yellow jeep back. He won, and it is now in his possession. He has said that is something Aubree wanted.

[RELATED: Jeep, other items returned to husband of Brittany Stykes]

Anyone with information on the case can contact Detective Carlson at 937.378.4435 extension 130.

The sheriff’s office also has an anonymous tip portal on its website.

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