It was from her best friend, Cheyenne Rose Antoine, concerned about where 18-year-old Brittney was. She was right to worry.
Hours later, a passerby discovered Brittney’s lifeless body on the side of a road. The man who found her said she was cold to touch, had no shoes on and was lying on her back.
Brittney had been strangled with a black patent belt found at the scene and the case was quickly escalated to a murder investigation. But clues were few and far between and police continued to draw blanks. As far as they knew, Brittney had been out with Cheyenne that night drinking and partying. The pair had even taken a smiling selfie together at the start of the evening, blissfully ignorant as to how tragically it would end.
Cheyenne told police Brittney had left with a man she didn’t know and that was the last she’d seen of her. I miss you soo much… wish heaven had visiting hours so I could come see you, she wrote on her Facebook page after hearing of her best friend’s death. I’m blessed to have met you. Still can’t believe those last two days were going to be the last two days I got to hug you, talk to you & laugh with you. You were way too young to go, gone but never forgotten.
But then Cheyenne’s story started unravelling.Investigators trawled CCTV footage and discovered the two girls never made it to the bar Cheyenne said they went to. Then police made a shocking discovery while looking through Brittney’s Facebook page for clues. After a two-year investigation, the smiling selfie from that night became a key piece of evidence that convicted Brittney’s killer. In it, Cheyenne was wearing a black belt – a belt that police now believed was the murder weapon. The belt’s weave and colour, evident in the selfie, were consistent with marks inside her friend’s car and indicated a struggle, said crown prosecutor Robin Ritter.
The evidence became damning as Cheyenne’s alibi for the later part of the evening also fell apart. She said that when she and Brittney had parted ways, she’d met up with her uncle for a walk. But when CCTV showed no sign of the pair together, he was questioned again and admitted he’d lied to protect his niece. Then someone came forward saying Cheyenne had come to their house on the night of the killing, drunk and hysterical. She’d confessed to strangling her friend after they’d had an argument. After they took that information to police, Cheyenne was charged with second-degree murder.
On January 15, 2018, at Saskatoon Provincial Court, Cheyenne Rose Antoine, 21, pleaded guilty to killing Brittney Gargol. She said she didn’t remember strangling her friend but didn’t dispute that she’d killed her. After initially being charged with second-degree murder, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and was jailed for seven years. But although it was the end of the three-year case, Brittney’s family didn’t get complete closure. Cheyenne said she didn’t remember committing the murder, much less give any reason for it.
In his victim impact statement, Brittney’s dad, Everett Hillbom, described feeling angry and sad that his daughter’s life was cut short. He was supposed to fix something on her car the day she died but he didn’t ever get to do it. ‘The last time I would have hugged her,’ he said. ‘You were her friend. She trusted you,’ Brittney’s stepmother, Kristi Wickenhauser, told Cheyenne during the hearing, adding that she could have taken Brittney to a hospital instead of leaving her to die in the street.
Cheyenne shed tears throughout the victim impact statements, but it was too late.
It was a tragic night that ended one life and ruined another – consequences that never could have been imagined just hours before as they smiled for that selfie.
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