Pregnant Ohio woman shot dead; toddler wounded

RIPLEY, Ohio - A toddler injured in a shooting that left her 22-year-old pregnant mother dead in Brown County is "improving," the child's father said Friday.

Brittany Stykes, of Ripley, was found shot to death Wednesday evening inside a car that crashed along a stretch of U.S. Route 68.

Stykes was found inside her Jeep about a half-mile from the intersection of U.S. Route 68 and Gooselick Road before 8 p.m. She was with her 14-month-old daughter, Aubree, who received a head wound.

Shane Stykes, Aubree's father, was laying in bed with his daughter inside Cincinnati Children's Hospital Friday and told NewsChannel5's sister station WCPO that the toddler is breathing on her own.

"I'd say she's going to be here for a while," Shane Stykes said.

Stykes and Aubree were found by Craig Labell, who pulled over and called 911 when he saw their vehicle. He initially thought Stykes had simply driven her SUV off the road and 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 a 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 once at the scene they found Stykes slouched over the steering wheel with multiple gunshot wounds.

She had been shot at least once in the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Stykes was four months pregnant.

Brown County authorities said multiple bullets had been fired through the driver's side of the vehicle and passed through the passenger side.

Labell also found Aubree inside the vehicle. She was covered in blood and crying, he told the 911 operator.

"There's a baby in the car seat…The baby is bloody, but conscious," he told the dispatcher before turning his attention back to Stykes. "I'm trying to see if the mother's breathing."

Investigators said Aubree was at least grazed by one of the bullets that contributed to the death of her mother. They said the bullet passed through Stykes, hit the driver's headrest and struck the infant in the head.

The child, who was conscious and crying at the scene, was initially transported to Southwest Regional Medical Center in Georgetown, Ohio to be treated.

Investigators spent Thursday afternoon going door-to-door throughout the Ripley community to ask residents if they had any information that could lead to the arrest of the shooting suspect.

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