The family of slain 18-year-old Brittney Gargol expressed gratitude and relief after the first court hearing for the woman’s accused murderer.
“So thankful that the investigators that have been working on this for almost two years never gave up hope,” said Kristi Wickenhauser, Gargol’s stepmom.
Court heard Wednesday a passerby discovered the body of an unidentified young woman off Cedar Villa Estates Road, just southwest of Saskatoon, on March 25, 2015. Police initially reported Gargol was found injured and died in hospital.
Police were able to identify Gargol days later, after sharing pictures of her unique tattoos on Facebook.
On Tuesday, officials reported a 20-year-old woman was charged with second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body in connection to the death.
Cheyenne Rose Antoine made her first appearance in Saskatoon Provincial Court Wednesday morning. She hid her face in the sleeves of her coat as the charges were read out.
Outside court, Wickenhauser said police were always in regular contact with the family, even if they didn’t have anything new to say. She added now the case is in court, there will be new challenges to confront.
“The details are not going to be pretty,” she said. “I’m raising her seven-year-old sister who has a lot of questions and doesn’t understand, so that’s difficult.”
Amanda Lesser, a longtime friend of Gargol, was with the family at court.
She described the 18-year-old as someone who would spend as much time as she could with friends and her four younger sisters.
“Brittney was very happy, joyful. She loved her family,” Lesser said.
The accused is scheduled for a bail hearing Friday morning.
Facebook post under fire
The night of her death, Gargol posted a new profile photo to Facebook of her and Antoine.
Nearly six months later, Antoine wrote a lengthy comment – the only one – on the picture expressing how much she missed the 18-year-old after seeing her in a dream the night before.
“Woke up with tears in my eyes, I’m blessed to have met you and have you be a part of my life,” the comment reads.
“Still can’t believe those last two days were going to be the last two days I got to be able to hug you, talk to you and laugh with you.”
Antoine went on to describe how Gargol was bubbly in her dream – “like you always were” – and wrote she’d cherish the memories they had since meeting in Grade 9.
On Wednesday, numerous comments appeared under Antoine’s, calling out the accused and asking for people to report it so the post would be taken down. By Thursday morning, the comment had been removed.
In July 2016, Antoine was the subject of a missing person’s report.
At the time, police said it was unusual for the 20-year-old not to be in contact with relatives and inactive on Facebook. She was found safe about a week later.
– With files from 650 CKOM’s Bryn Levy.