It’s the clues from total strangers that Dolly Martel clings to, trying to piece together the last few days her niece was alive.
A video taken from a dash cam shows Brittany Martel walking down the highway where she would eventually be found dead.
(Dash Cam shot by Trevor McBride. The video was edited by APTN News to slow it down and focus on Brittany Martel.)
The video was captured by a long-haul truck driver on Highway 5 in B.C. near the Mine Creek exit, close to Merritt.
Dolly said she immediately recognized her niece’s faded dyed red hair.
“I’ve watched it over and over again and I have paused it looking for something, anything,” Dolly told APTN News.
“Like I have Googled how far the distance of where that was to where she was found. How long it would take someone to walk there.”
“It just looks like she was waiting for someone.”
Dolly said that her heart races every time she is sent information by those who knew Brittany, making speculations on what happened.
The 27-year-old from K’atl’odeeche First Nation in the Northwest Territories, was found in a ditch along Hwy 5 south of Merritt, B.C., 120 kilometres west of Kelowna.
She had disappeared before.
In mid-June, family and friends were concerned for Martel’s health and well-being and her cell phone was no longer working.
A missing person’s report was filed and posted by RCMP which stated that Martel was planning to hitchhike to the N.W.T. and said she may be travelling with a male friend.
On July 3 she arrived back home safely in Hay River, NWT.
She left Hay River sometime after this.
Her body was discovered July 23 near the Mine Cree Rd.
Photo taken by Billie Pierre.
Attendees of a candle light vigil held in Merritt B.C., near the site Martel’s body was found, have also reached out to the family with photos.
Billie Pierre said she found discarded women’s panties at the site on Aug. 4 – almost two weeks after Martel’s body was found.
“They left them there. I drove by with my aunt. I didn’t touch them because I figured it was an investigation site. Later I realized the RCMP left them. They’d been there before the Merritt vigil. Other women saw them too.”
The RCMP told APTN that Brittany’s personal belongings were retrieved by the public, including her purse, a few kilometers from where she was discovered.
This was after police had searched the area and deemed the case not suspicious.
“We have built a timeline for where we believe Brittany was, coming from and going to. We have nailed down what we think is very accurate of how she came to be up there. We just don’t know what caused her death so we are no closer in that regard than the last time we spoke,” said Const. Derrick Francis of the RCMP Merritt Detachment.
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The case now lies with B.C. Coroners Service as per provincial protocol with cases deemed not suspicious.
Francis said a toxicology report is expected, but not until October.
Kristy Martel, Brittany’s sister, said it’s not just the blood results the family is waiting for.
“There is so little things that I know about her case. Just so many unanswered questions. I want to know how she got there.”
RCMP assure that any evidence being turned in is being considered.
“We used people’s dash cams and took statements from people who saw a person looking like her. We spoke to friends and then we eventually found the person that she came down here with, travelling down from Hay River. She travelled down with someone,” said Francis.
Dolly said she doesn’t understand why the RCMP have not interviewed Martel’s boyfriend whose name APTN decided not to disclose.
Martel was known to hitchhike with him that summer in B.C.
Francis provided an explanation as to why he was not interviewed.
“There is nothing to say that they were together or contacting one another, there was nothing on her personal devices that she was even speaking with him.”
As the investigation continues, the family prepared themselves for life changing events which Brittany will not partake in.
“My baby would have been born four days before her birthday. Her birthday is Sept. 16, and I am due the 12th. It just sucks that my baby won’t get to meet her. It just hurts even thinking about it,” said Kristy Martel.