On the 28th of August, 2013, a man (Craig Labell) came across a yellow jeep in a wooded area down an embankment in Brown County, Ohio. He discovered the body of Brittany Stykes (22) at the wheel with a dark red blood stain down her rib cage and side. She was pregnant at the time, and she and her unborn child had been shot dead. In the passenger seat, strapped into her car seat, Brittany's 18-month-old daughter Aubree had been shot in the head, however, she was still alive. Craig said, “the baby looked right at me and stared and me and blink, blink and started whimpering and saying, Mama".
Brittany had previously left her mother-in-law's house and was on her way to her parent's house, where her father David was celebrating his birthday. However, she would never arrive.
At 20 years old Brittany met her husband Shane whilst working at a Subway. In 2011 the two began dating and Brittany became pregnant. Shane already had two children, and in 2012 the couple married. On the night that Brittany was murdered she had been at her mother-in-law's house as she had an online interview for a job and had completed it there. She had been on her way to her father's house for the birthday celebration when she was murdered.
According to Sergeant Quinn Carlson of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, the yellow Jeep was found “just south of the intersection of state route 68 -- Goose Lake Road. There were bullet holes in the car but no shell casings at the scene. The police would end up ruling Shane out of the murder after multiple interviews. According to what's been released the police could find no motive for the murders.
However, Shane would tell Fox19 news that early that day Brittany had experienced a dangerous incident on her way to her mother-in-law's. “There was some type of confrontation,” he said. “That the police are well-aware of, between my wife and someone in a white or silver minivan, as she was on her way to my mother’s house that morning. I guess someone ran her off the road or something and she had sent a text to a friend of hers, cursing -- unlike her. She didn’t do that type of thing."
Thoughts / Theories
In one source (NBC News) the yellow Jeep is referred to as Shane's car which I find interesting. It's possible that the couple had two cars and that the jeep was primarily Shane's vehicle and he would normally drive it. However, this is never explicitly stated or explained. I find it interesting as if it was 'Shane's' car and it was rare for Brittany to drive it, it's possible that whoever shot at the car initially believed Shane was inside it. Of course, up close you would be able to see that it was not Shane driving, but if the bullets were initially fired from a distance or from a moving vehicle then in the dark of the evening it's possible that the killer discovered it was not Shane too late.
Shane told Fox19 that he had been told that Brittany had been pulled over. He said "she must have thought it was the police who pulled her over. There’s no way she got shot on the right side of the road, then somehow ended up over an embankment on the left side of the highway." We know that no bullet casings were found, indicating that either this was a forensically aware killer who collected the casings, or the initial shooting could have happened and the car was either pushed over the embankment or Brittany may have continued driving whilst injured and trying to get away, or unintentionally whilst unconscious.
In the same interview with Fox19, Shane said that the impact of the car going over the embankment had bent the front differential of the car into a U-shape. Because of this, he does not believe that Brittany had been pulled over to a dead stop as he believes she had to have been going at speed down the embankment to cause that damage, instead he believes that she had been paced alongside while driving and then fired on.
Knowing about the threatening encounter with a van earlier that day, could it be possible that the driver later saw the jeep and paced alongside the car, firing? Not much forensic information has been released however Shane referred to the 'bullet-ridden top and windshield' in his Fox19 interview and there are images of the jeep.