GEORGETOWN, Ohio -- Investigators hope fresh eyes will help break the unsolved homicide of a 22-year-old Brown County mother.
"Somebody out there knows what happened to Brittany Stykes," Brown County Prosecutor Zac Corbin said at a news conference Tuesday. "We're pleading, give this family the answers they need."
Stykes was 17-weeks pregnant when she was found dead just three miles from her parents’ home in Ripley in August 2013.
"We're never going to have closure. We're never going to get Brittany back," Mary Dodson, Stykes' mom, said Tuesday. "But we need peace."
John Burke, head of Brown County's Drug and Major Crimes Task Force, said there are "no major breakthroughs" in the Brittany Stykes case, but there is a renewed effort to solve it. The county’s task force, sheriff’s office, prosecutor’s office and Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation are all collaborating in the investigation.
"We are not going to let a lack of resources be an impediment to bring justice in this case," Corbin said. "BCI, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, the Brown County Prosecutors Office are going to work together and put forth all the manpower and all the resources we possibly can to get this case solved."
— Tom Mckee WCPO (@TMckeeWCPO) January 10, 2017
Since Stykes' death, Brown County has elected a new sheriff, prosecutor and coroner. Gordon Ellis took over the role of sheriff this month, replacing Dwayne Wenninger. Wenninger held the office since 2001.
"There are very few crimes in society that impact individuals and families more than a homicide does," Ellis said. "This is a cases that cries out for justice. So, if you have information or you have any knowledge of anything that can help us resolve the case I would encourage you to contact us."
Stykes' father, Dave Dodson, claims detectives stopped investigating his daughter's death last year. He said he did not believe the department had made much progress in a long time.
"(The sheriff's office) stopped taking my calls," he said. "With the new sheriff taking over, I have hope we'll get answers. (Having a new sheriff) is a confidence builder for me. He wants this case solved. I think he’ll be able to do it."
Corbin said the case was never closed.
Stykes was found with multiple gunshot wounds and slouched in her vehicle on Aug. 28, 2013. Bullets struck her neck, chest and right arm.
Stykes’ young daughter, Aubree, was found strapped in her car seat, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. Just 14 months old at the time, Aubree managed to survive the shooting after several major surgeries.
The coroner did not find gunshot residue at the site of Stykes’ death, indicating the mother was not shot at close range. She also had several abrasions to her face, right arm and fingers, as well as abrasions to her right leg. Toxicology results reported no drugs or alcohol in her system.
When Stykes’ body was brought to the coroner’s office, authorities said she had all of her jewelry and about $125 in cash on her.
Shane Stykes, Brittany Stykes’ widower, said he has been advised not to speak to reporters on the case.
He would only tell WCPO his daughter, Aubree, is doing very well and will start kindergarten soon.
“She is always happy and you would never know something happened to her,” Shane Stykes said. “She loves and misses her mom.”
The last major break in the case was in Sept. 2015 when authorities executed a search warrant at a home.
According to an affidavit, a female informant came forward in June 2015 with a possible suspect and motive. She said she had knowledge of the case that went “well beyond that of the general public,” investigators said.
The informant claimed she was riding in the passenger seat of a car with a hired hit-man who shot and killed Stykes over money her "old man" -- presumably husband -- owed.
This information led investigators to a home in the 2700 block of Hogg Ridge Road in Falmouth on Sept. 22, 2015.
Brown County Sheriff’s deputies, with assistance from Kentucky State Police, executed a search warrant at about 8:30 a.m. at the property – about an hour-and-a-half drive from where Stykes was killed.
Investigators carried metal detectors and shovels during the raid and, according to the affidavit, removed 19 pieces of evidence -- assorted notebooks and letters, 10 cellphones, CDs, a computer, a camera, a shotgun and four rounds of ammo.
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office called the raid a success at the time.
The suspect was in jail on unrelated charges and has yet to be charged to this day. Detectives interviewed him in August 2015, and wrote in the affidavit he “appeared very nervous during questioning.” He denied knowing where Georgetown or Brown County were located, and said he knew nothing about Stykes or her homicide, investigators said.
He -- nor any other suspect -- was ever charged in Stykes' death.
"Someone needs to be punished for this," Mary Dodson said. "Even a child knows, when you do something wrong, you need to tell someone and you need to be punished."
Authorities ask anyone with information on this case call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040 or text “CINTIP" plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). Tips can also be sent to Crime Stoppers online.
Digital Content Manager Maxim Alter contributed to this report.