Shane Stykes, Aubree Stykes and Brittany Stykes
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Custody lawsuit dropped in Brittany Stykes case

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RIPLEY, Ohio -- The parents of slain Brown County mother Brittany Stykes ended a custody lawsuit for their infant granddaughter Tuesday.

In December, Stykes' parents Mary and David Dodson filed the lawsuit against their son-in-law, alleging he stopped letting them see their granddaughter Aubrey Stykes after Brittany's death.

But both sides reached an agreement Tuesday and the custody suit was dropped, the Dodsons' attorney Julie Steddom said.

Steddom would not disclose the terms of the deal, but court documents show Aubree's father Shane Stykes will retain custody and the Dodsons will get "companionship time."

"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 in December after filing the suit.

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 then 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 was never 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.

That's when the Dodsons said it was time to take action.

"He says we're negative,” Mary said in December. “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 did not answer their phone calls and 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 in December. "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.'"

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 in November. Samantha Grubbs, who had a son with Shane 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.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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