CINCINNATI (AP) — The mystery surrounding the shooting death of a pregnant woman and the wounding of her toddler in their car in southern Ohio’s Appalachian country deepened Thursday after authorities held a news conference releasing few details about the investigation.
No arrests have been made in last Wednesday’s killing of Brittany Stykes, a 22-year-old stay-at-home mom. Stykes’ 14-month-old daughter, Aubree, was shot in the head and is recovering at a Cincinnati hospital. Stykes was five months pregnant, and the fetus didn’t survive.
Authorities thought they were going to the scene of a car crash on Aug. 28 when they responded to a call about a vehicle off the road in Ripley, some 45 miles southeast of Cincinnati. Instead, they found Stykes dead and Aubree bleeding from the head, still strapped in her car seat.
After more than a week of investigation, the motive in the crime “is still up in the air,” Brown County Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger said at a Thursday news conference.
“Obviously we’re taking this as a very serious matter,” he said, adding that investigators were testing unspecified items found at the scene and trying to reconstruct the crime. “We hope this helps fill in some of the pieces of the puzzle.”
Preliminary autopsy results viewed by Cincinnati-area media members show that at least five shots were fired at Stykes’ car and that two bullets hit her, causing three wounds to her body; the fatal shot hit her in the chest and punctured her lungs. The report also showed that no gunpowder residue was found on Stykes’ body, suggesting that the shots weren’t fired at close range, according to media reports.
David Dodson, Stykes’ father and Aubree’s grandfather, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he and his family are still baffled about why anyone would want to hurt his daughter and her children.
Stykes lived for her family and was loved by everyone who knew her, said Dodson, 49.
“She would call me every morning and it was always, ‘Dad, what are we going to do today?’” Dodson said, adding that his daughter spent every day with her parents while her husband worked his factory job in Cincinnati.
“She loved being a mom, that was her world right there — the babies and being married,” he said. “She wanted to be with us all the time.”
His daughter had just left her mother-in-law’s house and was on her way home when she was shot, Dodson said.
He said Aubree is getting better every day and has been asking about her mother. But until he knows who killed his daughter and unborn grandchild, Dodson said that he’ll be worried Aubree’s safety.
“If there’s anyone who knows any information, I beg you, please come out and get a hold of the sheriff’s department on this,” he said. “We need answers.”
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to whoever was responsible.
“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned to get justice for Brittany and her family,” Chief Deputy John Schadle said earlier this week.
Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Christmas officially kicked off Saturday in the city of Youngstown.
A new burger was crowned "king" of the Mahoning Valley Saturday.
A fashion show was held in Warren Saturday to help children who are living in a shelter.
Another area of low pressure will send snow to the Valley. That snow will change over to a wintry mix Sunday night which could lead to slick roads.
Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning County dedicated its 39th house on Saturday. It's been a long journey to get to this day, including the cleanup after vandals and thieves threatened the project.
Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown held an open house Saturday. The event is just one of many the school will be hosting to attract more students.
The sounds of the holiday season could be heard in Niles Saturday as a Valley tradition returned to the Eastwood Mall.
American Red Cross workers stayed busy Saturday at a holiday blood drive in Boardman.
UPDATE: A Canfield student won big on national television Saturday.
Allegiant Airlines will begin charging a fee for printing boarding passes beginning May 1, 2014.
Several hundred fans made the trip to Massillon to cheer on the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney football team as it went for its ninth state championship.
A Salem woman was arrested on a drug charge after a raid at her home on Thursday.
After 40 years, Dr. Richard Billak, who started the Community Corrections Association, is retiring at the end of December.
A group of local drug store workers spent part of their day giving back to some of the area's less fortunate.
The Youngstown Air Reserve Station confirmed Friday that the "Thunder Over the Valley" air show will return in the spring.
Students from Leonard Kirtz School were at Pioneer Farm in Poland on Friday, picking out some Christmas trees for U.S. service members.