Nearly 10 years later, the murder of pregnant Ohio mother Brittany Stykes remains unsolved
On August 28, 2013, 22-year-old Brittany Stykes and her 18-month-old daughter were headed to a birthday celebration when they were shot in Brown County, Ohio.
It’s been nearly a decade since pregnant 22-year-old Brittany Dodson Stykes and her 18-month-old daughter, Aubree, were shot in their hometown. “She was murdered on my birthday,” her father, David, told Dateline.
David and Mary Dodson moved to a farm in Ripley, Ohio about 20 years ago with their five children. “It’s a pretty quiet country town,” David said.
David told Dateline their second born, Brittany, loved country living. “She showed goats and chickens at the county fair,” David said. “She loved riding the horses.”
But what Brittany loved more than anything, was her family. “She really enjoyed spending time with her siblings,” David said. “We used to go to a lot of car shows and go drag racing all the time,” David said, adding that the family “pretty much did everything together.”
David said when Brittany was around 20 years old, she got a job working at Subway. There, she met her future husband, Shane Stykes.
“I ate there quite a bit as I was — started working out, eating healthy,” Shane told Dateline. “We had known each other for quite some time.”
But Shane said he didn’t make a move on Brittany, because she had a boyfriend at the time. “The lines were never really crossed there,” Shane said. Until one day he got a phone call — it was Brittany.
“I was home mowing my grass,” Shane remembered. “She told me that things didn’t work out with her boyfriend.” Shortly thereafter, in early 2011, the two started dating.
Then, Brittany got pregnant. “I had already had two children,” Shane said. “Of course, I was shocked.” But Shane said he told Brittany, “everything’s going to be all right” and that “we’ll do this.”
And they did. In February 2012, the two got married. “It was spur of the moment,” Shane told Dateline. “It was a great day.” And in June 2012, the couple welcomed their baby girl, Aubree.
By August 2013, the Stykes were living in their own home in Ripley. And Brittany was pregnant again.
Then came August 28, 2013. “It was a normal day for me. I went to work,” Shane said. “After work, I went to the gym to work out.” Shane told Dateline he worked in Tri-County, Ohio, about 15 minutes away from their home.
Brittany’s father, David, told Dateline Brittany had an online job interview that day and went with Aubree to her mother-in-law’s house to complete it. “She would be over to see me for my birthday that evening when she got done,” David said.
Brittany never made it to the celebration.
“I got woken up by someone beating on my door,” said Shane, who had come home, eaten some leftovers and had fallen asleep before being woken up. He said when he opened the door, there were two officers standing on his front porch. “They came in and started grilling me with all of these questions,” Shane said. He told Dateline the officers then sat him down. “They told me my wife was gone and I asked where my daughter was,” Shane said. “She was getting flown to Children’s Hospital, she was in intensive care.”
“We were sitting outside on our back deck,” Brittany’s father recalled. “We heard all the sirens and everything.”
“[Shane] called my house and talked to [my] wife and just said you know, that someone killed Brittany,” David told Dateline. “I drove up to where the sirens were because they were right by my house.”
David pulled up to the scene, but he told Dateline police wouldn’t let him anywhere near it. “I said, ‘Well, can you just tell me if it was a yellow Jeep and a girl with long dark hair?’ He said yes, and that’s how I verified who it was.”
It was a parent’s worst nightmare. His 22-year-old daughter Brittany and her unborn child were dead. The fate of his 18-month-old granddaughter Aubree was unknown.
According to the Brown County Ohio Sheriff’s Office website, “Brittany was shot multiple times,” and her “18-month-old daughter was shot in the head while in the passenger seat.” It goes on to say that the “vehicle was found deep in the woods with Brittany dead behind the wheel.”
Dateline spoke with Sergeant Quinn Carlson of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office who said that Shane’s yellow Jeep was found “just south of the intersection of state route 68 — Goose Lake Road,” with Brittany and Aubree inside. Sergeant Carlson told Dateline that “there was bullet holes in the vehicle,” but “there were no shell casings.” Carlson said “it was a very odd happening in Brown County,” and added that “the more you looked into [Brittany’s] life, there just didn’t seem like there was any reason behind it.”
Sergeant Carlson said the shooting rattled the town. “We don’t have many homicides a year,” Carlson told Dateline. “Something like this is exceedingly uncommon.”
The Brown County website also stated that “the initial direction of [the] investigation led to [Brittany’s] husband Shane Stykes, after numerous interviews and polygraphs, he was no longer considered a suspect.”
“They did their thing and interrogated me,” Shane told Dateline. “People taking pictures of me, following me, all this craziness.”
“The person that was in control of the investigation at the time definitely thought I had something to do with it,” Shane said. “They hassled things for years.” Shane said that eventually, someone else started working on the case who he believes, knows what they are doing. “I think they’re hopefully making some progress,” Shane said.
Sergeant Carlson told Dateline that “every lead we thought we were developing ended up being a dead-end.” He said, “people call it a cold case, but we don’t because it’s always being worked.” To this day, there are still no known suspects in the shooting. “It’s been a frustrating case to say the least,” Carlson said.
“There was a lot of speculation,” David Dodson said about his daughter’s murder, but “everything that they’ve worked on comes up empty-handed.”
Shane believes he knows who could have done it. “I know who I think did it, but I don’t want to point fingers,” Shane told Dateline. “I think what I said from day one is spot on and I think police are starting to understand that.”
Shane said he still has faith that justice will come for his wife and unborn child. But for nearly a decade, his focus has been on the survivor of that day – Aubree.
“She is the most amazing thing ever,” Shane said. “An angel miracle.” Shane told Dateline that as a result of the shooting, part of Aubree’s frontal lobe was gone and she has had to undergo four brain surgeries. But Aubree, who is now 10, is doing better than ever. “She tested out as the highest-scoring student in the entire the school district,” Shane said, proudly.
And every now and then, Shane told Dateline, he sees glimpses of Brittany in their daughter. “They’re so similar, it’s so beautiful to see,” Shane said. “She laughs just like her.”
Anyone with information about Brittany’s murder is asked to contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Office at 937-378-4435,