Brittany Stykes: Murder of pregnant mom gunned down in an ambush while driving remains unsolved

Family pic of Brittany Stykes
The murder of Brittany Stykes remains a baffling mystery. Pic credit: Ohio Attorney General

The murder of Brittany Dodson Stykes from the quiet town of Ripley in Brown County, Ohio, and the manner of her death shocked not only her family but the whole community.

Brittany was just 22 years old and pregnant with her second child when she was gunned down as she drove to her parents’ home. Her 18-month-old daughter, Aubree, was also in the car at the time and sustained life-threatening injuries in this unprovoked attack.

Over ten years have now passed since this senseless murder, and the police still have made no arrests or figured out a motive. Brittany’s husband, Shane Stykes, was initially a suspect, but the cops have now moved the investigation away from him.

On August 28, 2013, Brittany completed an online job interview at her mother-in-law’s house before beginning the short drive to her parents’ home in Ripley to celebrate her father’s birthday. However, while en route, she was attacked, ambush-style, and shot multiple times.

Passers-by, Craig LaBell and his wife spotted Brittany’s yellow jeep just off the side of the road in a wooded area along State Route 68 between Ripley and Georgetown. Brittany was slumped dead at the wheel, and Aubree, who was still in her child seat, had been shot once in the head.

When the police arrived at the scene, Aubree was rushed to a children’s hospital and would, thankfully, survive the incident. But Brittany and her unborn baby died at the scene. The cops found bullet holes in the vehicle but no shell casings and little in the way of any other evidence.

The cops later described the shooting as a “very odd happening” for the Brown County community.

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Brittany Stykes husband, Shane Stykes, was the prime suspect

The investigators initially honed in on Brittany’s husband, Shane, who was cross-examined about his movements and swabbed for gunpowder residue by officers before he was even informed about what had happened to his wife and daughter.

Shane was subjected to numerous interviews and polygraph tests, but two weeks after the murder, he was ruled out as a suspect. He later said, “The person that was in control of the investigation at the time definitely thought I had something to do with it. They hassled things for years.”

Shane has also stated that he has a theory about who killed his wife, which he explained to the police. However, he has not publicly revealed who he suspects because he doesn’t wish to point fingers.

One theory for the murder suggested Brittany had been involved in a road rage incident, and there were reports of a possible confrontation earlier in the day. However, police inquiries failed to lead to an arrest.

In 2015, the cops received a tip-off that a man called Tommy Lee Lopez admitted to being hired to kill a woman named “Britt” in Brown County, but that turned out to be a hoax.

Brittany Stykes’s parents continue their search for answers

In the meantime, Brittany’s parents, Mary and David Dodson, keep a large portrait of their daughter on their porch. They said it would stay there until they found answers about what happened to Brittany.

Mary had spoken to her daughter earlier that day, and after ten years, she still remembers their exact words. Mary said, “Well honey, I love you. You have a good day,” and Brittany replied, “I will Mom, I love you too.”

The grieving mother also said, “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.”

The relationship between Shane and Mary and David Dodson soured dramatically in the years since the murder. Shane has publicly said they “hate my guts,” and some members of the family still suspect that he had something to do with Brittany’s murder.

Shane Stykes vents anger at Brittany’s family’s accusations

During a radio show in 2015, Shane said, “If you accuse me of stealing five bucks off your dresser or something like that and apologize for it, sure, I might forgive something like that. You can’t turn around from accusing me of being a horrible monster that would kill my own family.”

Shane and Brittany’s uncle, Bill Pack, appeared on the KiddChris morning show, where they argued about everything from the murder to custody and visitation rights of Aubree to the lettering on Brittany’s gravestone.

Pack suggested that Shane had “knowledge” of the shooting, to which Shane responded, “These people, man, it’s ridiculous. I don’t even get it. As soon as they make this arrest, you all can point your fingers somewhere else, and you can maybe leave me alone.”

Shane Stykes gives an interview
Shane Stykes has fallen out with Brittany Stykes’s family. Pic credit: @Wcpo9/YouTube

One thing they can all agree on is how proud they are of Aubree. She turned ten years old in 2022 and is reportedly thriving. She lost part of her frontal and had to undergo four brain surgeries, but according to Shane and her grandparents, she regularly gets top marks at school.

Shane called his daughter “An angel miracle” and said she “is the most amazing thing ever.” He described her as being just like Brittany, “it’s so beautiful to see,” he said. “She laughs just like her.”

Brittany’s parents also said that Aubree is growing into the same girl that her mother had been, but they are devastated that she is growing up without her mother.

A new sheriff breathes life into investigation of Brittany Stykes murder

In the last year, Brown County acquired a new sheriff with a fresh approach, causing Brittany’s family to become hopeful that they may find answers. The police have described the case as “extremely active.”

Brittany Stykes smiling in a family pic
Brittany Stykes was murdered nearly ten years ago. Pic credit: Ohio Attorney General

Sheriff Gordon Ellis said he gets tips every few weeks and that every one of them is thoroughly investigated. Ellis told WLWT, “I believe that there is someone or someones out there that do have information on this case. I pray for the day that we bring this family closure. What I am confident in is we will never stop investigating this.”

In March 2023, Detective Quinn Carlson told the press that investigators were using a new technology they hoped would help crack the case. Carlson did not elaborate on what the new technology entailed, and so far, there have still been no arrests.

Mary Dodson remains determined to get answers. She said, “This needs solved. There’s someone out there that took a life that wasn’t theirs to take and, in fact, took two.”

The reward for any information leading to a successful arrest and prosecution is now at $50,000. The amount is comprised of $10,000 from the Brown County Prosecutors Office and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, $10,000 from two anonymous donors, and $30,000 from Tenderfoot TV and Resident Recordings.

Anyone with any information about this horrific crime should contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Office at 937-378-4435, extension 130, or visit the website. Tips can be given anonymously.

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