More questions than answers swirl around young woman’s death in B.C. - APTN NewsAPTN News

More questions than answers swirl around young woman’s death in B.C.

Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs
The family of a young woman found dead in B.C. in July say they have more questions about how she died than answers.

Brittany Martel, 27, from the K’atl’odeeche First Nation, Northwest Territories, was found in a ditch on July 22 along Hwy 5 south of Merritt, B.C.

Police informed the family that when she was discovered, she had no shoes on her feet, and was without her cell phone.

“She never goes anywhere without her phone,” says Diane Fabian, Brittany’s aunt.

The Call

The family believes that two women who were travelling with Brittany that month may have more information about the days leading up to her death.

Fabian says on July 24, two days after her body was discovered, she received a phone call from a friend of Brittany’s who had been driving with her through B.C.

Brittany’s friend phoned Fabian to tell her that Brittany had phoned her angry asking why she had been left in B.C.

“I asked her if she could tell me when the last time she spoke to Brittany was but she hung up.”

When APTN reached out to this friend she declined to comment.

Another woman contacted Dolly Martel.

“One of Brittany’s friends who she had been driving with said that when she got up from a nap on the side of the road and Brittany was gone,” says Dolly. “She said she drove back and forth down that highway and there was no sign of her. She went back to that spot and there was no sign of her. Then she left”

Both Fabian and Dolly Martel say they hope the RCMP conduct interviews with the two women who the family believes might have been with Brittany last along with Brittany’s boyfriend who she had hitchhiked frequently with.

The Investigation

Police have declared her death as “not suspicious.”

“The woman’s death is not deemed suspicious and no criminality is suspected,” says the RCMP statement dated July 31.

The release from the RCMP does not include any other details about her death.

An autopsy was performed on July 30.

Cpl. Derrick Francis told APTN that the case now rests with the B.C. Coroners Service.

“We do still have questions of how she came to be there and figure out her last steps before she became deceased,” he says.

Francis says that a pathologist will give a final report before the cause of death is fully determined, but even so, sometimes reports come back inconclusive.

“I know deep in my heart that she was put there by somebody,” says Dolly. “I can’t see her just walking in the bush, plus where she was found.

“I want justice for her. I want closure for my family.”

The B.C. Coroners Service has advised the family to have a closed casket.

“We just got word that we have to have a closed casket as she was badly decomposed,” says Dolly.

Diane Fabian says the closed casket is not something that the family had planned for after what police told them.

“The RCMP told us they couldn’t find any marks on her or negligence of her body, said that she looked healthy.”

Martel’s blood work is being processed.

For the family, having her body so far from home after her death goes against their Indigenous culture and adds to the grief.

“They don’t even know the exact day she died. Our tradition is that we make a cross on the day she passed but we don’t even know what to put for that day.”

Hitting the road 

“She tried to go to counselling but a lot of times the counsellor missed appointments and she gave up. She tried to get into the Matrix addictions program, but it was full. She made up excuses to not go.” says Dolly.

Her battle with addictions led Brittany to live on the streets some nights and hitchhike.

In June, she had hitchhiked from the Okanagan region back up to the NWT.

“She asked for money saying she was at the Greyhound waiting. She said she wanted proof that she was on the Greyhound, so she sent me a picture,” says Dolly.

Brittany would often take a Greyhound bus to Edmonton to meet up with her boyfriend, but something would happen and she would hitchhike back south to look for him.

“She had wanted to go back down to see a boyfriend she had been hitchhiking with,” says Dolly. “He was kicked off of the Greyhound after he had verbally abused her and had a violent outburst. He was left at a rest stop.”

The family says at this point in time, the RCMP have not contacted Martel’s boyfriend.

Remembering her Life

Dolly Martel remembers her niece’s artistic side, her love for her family and her smile.

“She could look at something and she could draw it, she experimented with painting and tattooing. She was really brilliant in her passion for art. ”

Diane Fabian remembers Brittany’s warm and caring nature.

“When she was with me she was a happy young girl, always loving, smiling and laughing no matter what was going on. Whenever she saw you she would hug you and tell you she loved you.”

The family says they want her to be remembered as a caring individual.

“When she was little and would argue with her siblings she was always the first one to pull them back together and say ‘I am sorry I love you’” her Dolly says.

A vigil will take place in Brittany’s home community later this week.


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7 Responses to “More questions than answers swirl around young woman’s death in B.C.”

    Karyn August 11, 2018 at 2:21 am #

    Everything sounds fishy to me. Condolences to the family. Praying that you find the answers you need.

    Angela August 11, 2018 at 12:57 am #

    More can and should be done, trace her last phone calls or texts, what did she talk about, who did she talk too? I think the answer may lie on how she did die. Autopsy reports will have more answers for the family. If another lady commmented previously saying she was walking in the middle of the road, did she have shoes? Even if she didn’t notice, that’s not the point. The point is she is dead, how can she end up just dead in the bush somewhere with no shoes. That would be suspicious 100%-common sense…she’s not going to go from walking on the highway to walking in the bush and just drop. Did she die of dehydration, did an animal kill her (guess not if her body had no injuries) was it an overdose, drugs or alcohol in her system, suicide (can’t be with suicide with no injuries to her body) Can’t get over that! Police are definitely not doing there job, this here is a story of how the Canadian RCMP do not do all they can. Fuck race and the system do your damn job and do what’s proper or don’t become a police officer to begin with. They think oh we have the final say and we deem this not suspicious in nature…says who…who allows this? Why can’t they reveal their reports to family so the family can have closure on making sure that all was done to get every piece of information they can. Why didn’t they contact the boyfriend or the two girls she was with, if they were the last ones to see her…at least ask if she had shoes or did she leave her shoes behind? I swear it doesn’t take ten years of schooling to get answers, sometimes average joes can do a better job!

    Rhonda August 9, 2018 at 5:17 am #

    No one has contacted the so-called boyfriend? Why not? If she came to BC to find him, was she able to? Too many questions. Addiction is horrible and so hard to deal with but her family still deserves answers! I pray that the family gets answers, this is heart- breaking .

    cant say August 6, 2018 at 10:34 am #

    a co-worker and I saw her Thursday morning a few days before she was found deceased, we saw her alone walking near where she was found, walking down straight in the median of the Coquihalla near mine creek interchange, we thought it was odd someone would be out there in middle of nowhere walking down middle of forested median, she appeared to be alright though, she wasn’t hitchhiking or showing any signs of distress or intoxication,she looked right at us but didn’t try flagging any vehicles down for a ride and was quite distance from either direction of travel of the freeway to be hitchhiking, almost like she was there looking for empty bottles and cans to collect or something, which often people do out there, but there was no vehicle parked anywhere near there so we thought it was quite odd, but when we came back not long after and were going to stop and ask if she was alright, which by our union we are not allowed to give people rides, we can call help if someone needs assistance, but there was no sign of her

    Danielle August 5, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

    Not suspicious? Are you kidding me!? Found on the hwy 5 with no shoes and that’s not suspicious? Merritt Police come on let’s do better!!! This is someone child! It doesn’t matter if she had addiction problems, she was a human being. Have the police become so lazy that they don’t want to put in the effort or is it that they just chalk it up to “Just another native girl” this is unacceptable! Let’s do better!!!
    The family deserves closure so they can heal. I pray they get all the answers. Keep sharing her story people!

    Deb Alexander August 5, 2018 at 5:14 am #

    My condolences to the family! And it must be investigated. Someone knows what happened.

    June August 4, 2018 at 7:40 pm #

    I believe someone was involved with her death. The Martel and Fabian need answers. Bree was not just walking down a highway and collapsed to the side of the road. She had no shoes on and she never left her sell phone behind. Someone out there knows something. Those people need to be questioned more. Did her friend call police after she went missing from her car? Common sense would have it that the friend would call police directly. Makes me livid.