Custody battle rages over slain Brown County woman's daughter

RIPLEY, Ohio -- Just four months after their daughter's shooting death, Mary and David Dodson are facing another emotional battle: They are suing their son-in-law.

The parents of slain Brown County mom Brittany Stykes filed a lawsuit this week, alleging their daughter’s husband Shane Stykes stopped letting them see their granddaughter.

"I'm an adult. Little children play games. I don't want to play games. I wanna’ love my granddaughter. That's what I want to do," Mary Dodson said.

Brittany was found shot to death in Shane’s Jeep on Aug. 28, just a few miles from the Dodsons' home in Ripley. Brittany’s 14-month-old daughter, Aubree , was also in the vehicle, strapped in her car seat and bleeding from a gunshot wound to her head.

Stykes was five months pregnant at the time of her death, and her unborn baby died. Aubree survived the shooting, and four surgeries later , is largely the same little girl she was before. Doctors had to insert a shunt to help move fluid from her head to the rest of her body.

In the months after Brittany’s death, the Dodsons and Shane took turns watching Aubree. The Dodsons said their relationship with Shane and his family was civil and their love for Aubree has never been stronger.

But around Thanksgiving, the Dodsons said Shane stopped letting them see the little girl that has kept them whole since their daughter’s death.

Now, they’re at war over her custody.

"He says we're negative,” Mary said. “He doesn't want to be around negative people. I don't know, I think he thinks we're mourning too long. But I've -- we've lost a lot."

The Dodsons said Shane will no longer answer their phone calls and has kept Aubree from them for more than three weeks.

After making several attempts to see Aubree, the Dodsons said they had no choice but to call a lawyer and fight for full custody.

“The last time we did speak to (Shane) and his mother, they were very cruel and hateful,” Mary said. "How cruel can you be? I've lost my daughter. I've lost a grandchild. Now they won't let me see the other one. It's Christmas." 

The Dodsons say they cared for Aubree on a daily basis even before Brittany’s death -- and not seeing Aubree would be like losing a "big chunk" of their hearts.

“I've changed every diaper…and bathed her and taken care of her when Brittany was at work every day," Mary said. "Even when Shane was not working Brittany would bring her here. Brittany would say, 'Mom, I want her with you and I know she'll be well taken care of.'"

A court hearing in the custody suit is set for Dec. 30 at 9 a.m. in Brown County Juvenile Court.

Investigators with the Brown County Sheriff's Office have made no arrests and have not found the murder weapon in Brittany’s death. They still don't know whether Brittany knew her killer or where the shooting occurred, just where her car ended up.

The latest development in the case came in the form of a subpoena last month . Samantha Grubbs, who had a son with Shane Stykes before he married Brittany, was ordered to testify before a grand jury in mid-November.

In an interview with the I-Team , Grubbs said Brittany “got involved with the wrong group of people."

Shane has repeatedly turned down WCPO’s requests for an interview.

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