Pregnant Ohio mom died in barrage of bullets; Toddler shot continues to improve

CINCINNATI - As family and friends mourn a 22-year-old pregnant mother killed in Brown County last week, autopsy results are giving new details on her death.

Brown County Coroner Judith A. Varnau released the preliminary autopsy report Wednesday for Brittany Stykes, who was found shot to death in her car 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.

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, the coroner 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.

The infant is being treated at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Her father told WCPO in Cincinnati she is "improving."

A motorist found Stykes dead in her Jeep after it crashed off the highway about a half-mile from the intersection with Gooselick Road before 8 p.m. last Wednesday.

Craig Labell pulled over and called 911 when he saw their vehicle. He initially thought Stykes had simply driven her SUV into a wooded area between Georgetown and Ripley.

"There's a Jeep off the road in the woods. Looks like somebody drove off the road into the woods and they're passed out at the wheel. Looks like a girl, female in her 20s or 30s," he told a Brown County dispatcher.

Law enforcement officials responded to the call expecting to investigate a single-vehicle accident.

But they found Stykes slouched over the steering wheel with multiple gunshot wounds.

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

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

Deputies say there is still a very active investigation to find Stykes' killer.

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.

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