Brown County deputies struggle to solve pregnant mom's shooting death

GEORGETOWN, Ohio – Deputies with the Brown County Sheriff's office Thursday said they have no leads in the shooting death of a 22-year-old pregnant mother who was killed in her car last week.

Despite preliminary data from the Brown County Coroner's Office , Chief Deputy John Schadle wouldn't confirm the number of shots, whether they were fired at close range or long, or what kind of weapon was used in the death of Brittany Stykes.

"We're still waiting on a lot of things to come back from the crime lab, evidence to be processed, things of that nature," Schadle said. "I've got three detectives that are actively following any lead or phone call that comes in."

But Brown County Coroner Judith A. Varnau released a preliminary autopsy report Wednesday for Stykes, who was found shot to death in her Jeep off U.S. Route 68 Wednesday, Aug. 28.

The report states at least five shots were fired and two struck Stykes, of Ripley, while she was 17 weeks pregnant. The three other shots hit the door of her vehicle.

One shot hit her neck, the coroner said. If that had been it, the wound would have been superficial. But the second bullet hit the side of Stykes' chest, puncturing her lungs and possibly going through her body and into her arm.

Varnau said there was no soot from the gun blast on Stykes' body, suggesting she was not shot at close range.

If the shooting happened while Stykes was seven more weeks along in her pregnancy, Varnau said the baby might have lived.

The unborn child's gender may be determined in the final autopsy report, scheduled to release in two months.

Varnau said there were no abnormalities or defects found with the unborn child and that it would have been a healthy baby.

"She was almost halfway there and another seven weeks and the baby could have been viable live outside the body by itself -- but not at 17 weeks," Varnau said.

Inside the vehicle, police found Stykes’ 14-month-old daughter Aubree who was also injured.

Schadle said investigators have video of Stykes driving at 7:30 the night she was killed. But he wouldn't say where that video was shot.

Schadle said detectives do have a witness report, but so far it hasn't brought them any new information.

"There was at least one other person who heard shots fired but they weren't able to pinpoint the location and they didn't have anything to offer in regards to vehicles or anything," he said.

He added that detectives have narrowed down the window of the shooting to 35 minutes, from 7:30 to 8:05 p.m., but are still struggling to determine what happened.

"If someone was following her, were they a block behind her? A mile behind her? Did they pass her in town? Did they turn off and take a short cut? We would have to assume facts we don't have," Schadle said.

Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification are assisting Brown County. Investigators found several items that are being processed by the state crime lab. The scene is also being reconstructed by Highway Patrol.

Schadle said there is no person of interest, suspect or motive at this time.

"In today's world, we see random stuff that happens. We see road rage incidents. We see domestic incidents. We see drug-related incidents," Schadle said. "There's a whole plethora of things that we have to look at and eliminate to get down to the nuts and bolts of this case."

Styke's daughter Aubree is being treated at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Her father told 9 On Your Side this week that she is “improving.”

"It takes a very sick individual to shoot a small child, so we hope when this comes together we find out that this was collateral damage for lack of a better term, but again, we're speculating at this point," Schadle said.

Stykes' funeral was held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Salt Air Church of Christ.

She was baptized and married at the church, taught Sunday school there and worked with the Junior Church.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information about who killed Stykes. The Brown County Sheriff’s Office is asking for tips to be called in at 513-352-3040 or reported online at http://crime-stoppers.us/submit-a-tip/ .

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