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‘The Betrayal In This Is Unreal’: 16-Year-Old 'Cowgirl' Allegedly Murdered By Friend Who Mourned Her Death With Family
Bryce Dickey, 18, initially told police he saw Gabrielle "Britney" Ujlaky get into a green Ford pickup truck with a “pretty tall” cowboy the day the teen vanished. But authorities now suspect he invented the story.
Bryce Dickey, 18, was charged with one count of open murder in the death of his high school friend Gabrielle “Britney” Lynn Ujlaky, who vanished from Elko, Nevada earlier this month.
Ujlaky was last seen at a park in Elko, Nevada on March 8, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
Before his arrest, Dickey allegedly attempted to mislead investigators and Ujlaky’s family by fabricating a story about a suspicious “cowboy,” in a green pickup truck, who he speculated could be behind her abduction. For days, authorities searched for the non-existent vehicle, which they now believe he invented.
Dickey first told detectives he and Ujlaky spent three and a half hours driving around before she disappeared that afternoon. The 18-year-old said he dropped her off at the high school around 4:30 p.m.
Before driving away, Ujlaky got into a green Ford F-150 with a “pretty tall” man wearing a cowboy hat, Dickey claimed. He described the man as a “new friend.” He said the Ford was an early 2000s stepside model with Nevada plates. Dickey also recalled seeing a toolbox on the back, he added.
But throughout several interviews, Elko County detectives found Dickey’s story increasingly fishy. His account of events leading up to Ujlaky’s disappearance contained a number of inconsistencies, authorities said. Video surveillance also contradicted a previous timeline he fed investigators. Dickey initially stated he picked up Ujlaky from Angel Park in Elko around 1:30 p.m. However, she was recorded getting into his Chevrolet pickup nearly two hours later, closer to 3:22 p.m.
Apple earbuds found nearby Ujlaky’s body also matched a pair she was wearing in a Snapchat message that was sent to one of her friends while she was hanging out with Dickey shortly before she was killed.
Dickey initially denied having a sexual relationship with the murdered teenager, detectives said. However, a used condom found near her tarp-wrapped corpse contained both Ujlaky's and Dickey’s DNA. The breakthrough ultimately led to Dickey’s arrest.
“Gabrielle’s DNA profile was located on the exterior of the condom and Mr. Dickey’s DNA profile was located on the interior of the condom,” according to the probable cause statement.
When investigators confronted Dickey with the evidence, he walked back his earlier statement, saying he had sex with Ujlaky the day she was killed. Ujlaky's family and friends, however, insisted that there was no previous sexual relationship between the pair and she wasn't interested in him romantically.
Her cause of death hasn’t yet been released. Officials at the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner's Office were unable to confirm whether the teen's autopsy was still pending as of Monday morning. A motive in the killing isn’t currently known either.
Elko County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment further on the case late last week.
“I’m really, really numb,” Alisha Ujlaky, the teen’s mother, told Oxygen.com on Saturday. “[We’re] hanging in there by the fingernails.”
The grieving mother said Dickey’s arrest blew her away. The 18-year-old, who she described as a “shy, cowboy kid,” was almost family.
“I trusted him impeccably,” Ujlaky stated. “The betrayal in this is unreal.”
The Nevada bartender mom, who said she “never in a million years” suspected Dickey, explained she “bought” the suspected killer’s story about the green Ford, “hook, line, and sinker.” Ujlaky said she even consoled her daughter’s accused killer at a balloon launch memorial days before his arrest. The memory now makes her want to vomit.
“I grabbed his cheeks and I tilted him towards me so he was looking in my eyes,” Alisha recounted. “For somebody [who] can sit there and betray a best friend like that, take her life, then go and celebrate her life with her family, go out looking for her — he is a psychopath.”
The mourning, self-described hippie mom also described Dickey as an "evil son of a b--ch."
Dickey grieved Ujlaky on social media, as well, and participated in a separate gun-heavy desert memorial for his "sis" two days after his friend’s body was identified.
“Yesterday, we all received news that made us hit the floor,” Dickey wrote on Facebook on March 13. “Around 8 in the morning we all started meeting up at my house to grieve an (sic) to mourn britney's life. Which was taken far too soon. That day I had tears of pain and joy.”
Video recordings contained in the post show a cluster of armed teenage boys — clad in jeans, boots, and cowboy hats — brandishing an arsenal of pistols and rifles beside a dusty dirt road. One by one, they unleash a flurry of gunshots into the Nevada desert, supposedly to honor Ujlaky.
“I wish she could have seen the amount of us that came together to honor you sis,” Dickey added. “We love you so much. Just know you won't ever be forgotten.”
Less than a week later, Dickey was in handcuffs.
Dickey and Ujlaky met through a local rodeo group in middle school. The teen’s family and friends attested the pair’s friendship was purely platonic; they never dated, were never intimate, nor did they have any visible chemistry. Ujlaky’s nickname for Dickey was “big brother.”
“She looked up to him,” 18-year-old Cheyenne Fry, Ujlaky’s best friend, told Oxygen.com. “She talked nothing but good things about him.”
On at least one occasion, however, Dickey supposedly admitted he had a crush on Ujlaky. She reportedly turned him down, Fry said.
Those close to Ujlaky also claimed Dickey’s high school friends had publicly bullied her in the months leading up to her killing.
Ujlaky was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado but grew up in Spring Creek, according to the slain teen’s obituary. The 16-year-old “cowgirl” loved cattle drives, horse-riding, ranch work, and lived to saddle up. Her family described her as a “flipping firecracker.”
“She would get on any horse — it didn’t matter if it bucked or not,” Alisha Ujlaky, recalled. “She had no fear. I watched her get thrown off a horse, stand back up, and she’d kick the dirt and cuss a little bit like a good Nevada cowgirl and go jump back on.”
Ujlaky also adored flowers, TikTok, music — particularly country and reggae — and friends.
“She was the one person in my life I could trust with everything and anything,” Fry said. “She always put a smile on your face. You were never sad around her.”
The Nevada teen aspired to join the military after graduating high school, her family said.
“It’s awful, she had her whole life in front of her,” Michael Cauley, a local gold miner, who organized a GoFundMe for the family, told Oxygen.com.
Cauley, 37, said his wife, a hair stylist, grew up down the street from Ujlaky’s great grandmother.
“They definitely took a beautiful soul,” he said.
The family hasn’t yet set a date for Ujlaky’s funeral but plan to cremate her remains.
Dickey made his first appearance in an Elko County courthouse on Friday. He was assigned a public defender and remains in custody. As of Friday, no bail had been set in his case, court clerks said. The 18-year-old doesn’t appear to have a prior criminal history.
If the case proceeds to trial and prosecutors can prove Ujlaky’s killing was premeditated, Dickey could face the death penalty or life behind bars.
Such a prospect, pleases Ujlaky's family.
“He belongs in prison,” Alisha Ujlkay said. “I hope one day the evil that lives in [his] soul faces [him] head on,” she added.
Dickey's next court date hasn't been scheduled yet.