RIPLEY, Ohio -- There are heavy hearts for the parents of Brittany Stykes, as they celebrate their first Christmas without her.
Stykes was murdered in August, and her killer remains free.
WCPO reporter Jason Law spoke to the Brown County family about celebrating through the pain.
The parents of Stykes, Mary and Dave Dodson said they're a family of tradition, but this will be the first time in 22 years when Brittany isn't by her mother's side on Christmas Day.
"A very hard Christmas because I'm not gonna see Aubree," Mary Dodson said, "And Brittany's not here to do the cute little things that she does, and help me do things that need to get done."
The Dodsons tried to celebrate the holiday as best as a grieving family can. Almost four months have passed and their daughter's murder remains unsolved.
"My kids have always said, 'Mom, it's Christmas and we don't have any candy and cookies,' I said 'Mom doesn't have the heart. Mom doesn't have it this year,' I hope I do next year. I don't have it this year," Mary said.
A family friend made a holiday wreath and it now hangs on a very large memorial on the side of State Route 68. It's a cross, erected only feet away from where Brittany Stykes was found murdered.
Stykes was driving to her parents' home in Ripley when she was shot several times inside her yellow Jeep. Her 1-year-old daughter, Aubree was shot in the head and survived. After four surgeries, Aubree is recovering with her father, Shane.
The Dodsons are clinging to happy memories to get through this time.
"One of the things Brittany did was make sure her present every year, her goal was something to..." Dave started to say.
"Make me cry," Mary finished.
"Make her cry or embarrass her," Dave said.
Mary said, "I was usually crying. She said she knew she got Mom a good gift is she made me cry."
The family was hoping an arrest would be made before the holidays. Now, they prepare for a new year, with a new hope that Brittany's murder will be solved.
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