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Selfie Helps Canadian Police Solve Murder of High School Senior Found on Roadside
An overlooked clue would help police find the person responsible for murdering 18-year-old Brittney Gargol and leaving her body in the remote outskirts of Saskatoon, Canada.
The mystery of who killed 18-year-old Brittney Gargol and dumped her body on the outskirts of a Canadian town left authorities scrambling to find an unlikely killer.
In Oxygen's Final Moments, friends described Gargol as a “bubbly” and “hyper” teen, just weeks away from her high school graduation. Gargol seemed to make the best of her of life’s circumstances, having been raised by her grandmother due to her mother’s struggles with addiction and an absentee father.
Aspiring to build and own hotels one day, Gargol worked multiple jobs when not in the classroom, including at a local pizzeria.
“She was definitely driven to get what she wanted,” friend Atasha Storey told Final Moments, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen. “I knew right away that this girl was going to go places and do things.”
But on the night of March 23, 2015, Gargol opted to enjoy a night on the town in Saskatoon, a city on the Saskatchewan River in Canada. She and her friend, Cheyenne Antoine, headed into the night, neither knowing it would be Gargol’s last.
Friends claimed Gargol and Antoine had known each other since the ninth grade and bonded because of their pasts. Early in life, Antoine lost both of her parents and was raised in the foster care system, becoming a childhood victim of sexual abuse.
According to Storey, both women stopped by her home, where Gargol asked to borrow some money for gas.
“And then I told her to be careful,” Storey said. “’If you need me, call me, and I’ll come pick you up or whatever.’ She gave me a hug, and that was it. That was my last interaction with her.”
At 12:02 a.m., the early morning hours of March 24, 2015, Gargol and Antoine posted a fun and friendly selfie on social media as the pair got ready at Gargol’s grandmother’s home. It would be Gargol’s last-known correspondence, and she would never return home.
Police find clues on Brittney Gargol’s social media
Six hours later, at 6:02 a.m., investigators with the Saskatoon Police Service were dispatched to a remote road on the outskirts of Saskatoon, where a passing motorist found a female’s body not far from a landfill. The victim was cold to the touch and missing her shoes, and attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.
Law enforcement members, including Sgt. Ernie Louttit of the Saskatoon Police Service, immediately suspected foul play.
“The signs that she was the victim of a homicide were pretty obvious [because of] the marks on her throat,” Louttit told Final Moments. “The bruising and all the injuries were consistent with a homicide.”
Police collected a leather jacket, a woman’s watch, and a belt from the crime scene, hoping to glean more information about the then-unidentified woman’s body. That morning, they published photos of the victim’s tattoos, which included a couple of stars and a lion’s head, hoping that anyone with information would come forward.
Storey saw the release on the news and quickly contacted authorities.
“I literally dropped on my couch and started crying because I was like, ‘there’s no way,’” Storey emotionally recounted. “She was just here nine hours [ago].”
It didn’t take long for police to identify the victim as Brittney Gargol.
Soon, investigators went to work, sifting through the teen’s social media accounts. One of the most recent posts came from Antoine, the young woman who was reportedly with Gargol on the night before Gargol died.
The Facebook post stated: “Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe.”
Police paid Antoine a visit, and according to Antoine, the women barhopped around Saskatoon, starting at the Manchester Brew Pub and eventually winding up at the Colonial Pub & Grill. During the interim, at around 4:00 a.m., Antoine said they attended a house party and that Gargol incidentally began hanging out with an unknown man in his 30s.
Antoine said she and Gargol eventually parted ways and that Antoine was dropped off at an assisted living facility, where she visited her uncle. Antoine went so far as to get her uncle on the phone with the police, and the uncle corroborated Antoine’s statements that he saw his niece sometime after 4:00 a.m.
Surveillance video contradicts Cheyenne Antoine’s claims
Days after Gargol’s murder, a postmortem examination revealed Gargol was a victim of strangulation and that whoever killed her used the black, braided belt found at the site where her body was found. It was also determined that Gargol was not the victim of sexual assault.
The belt was sent to the lab, and two D.N.A. profiles were created; one matched the victim, and another had yet to be determined.
Family and friends grieved at Gargol’s funeral as police began following up with Antoine’s account of the friends’ night out. Although surveillance footage showed both at the Manchester Pub, as Antoine told police, nothing was found on video to prove either one went to the Colonial.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Robin Ritter said police soon realized the girls’ visit to the Colonial “simply did not happen.”
Furthermore, security footage from her uncle’s assisted living facility proved Antoine never arrived, as uncle and niece previously stated.
“Her story was starting to fall apart,” Ritter told Final Moments.
Police interviewed the uncle, and before long, he confessed that he initially lied to investigators. According to the uncle, Antoine asked him to lie while feeding him her account of what happened: Antoine and Gargol went to a bar and eventually wound up at a motel with two Black males, using drugs and consuming alcohol.
Antoine told the uncle that they fought over cocaine before she went to use the bathroom, and when she returned, Gargol was lifeless on the bed with marks on her neck. One of the unidentified men then threatened Antoine with a gun, demanding she help them dispose of the body.
Police, however, were skeptical of Antoine’s account, and there was nothing to support Antoine’s new claims.
“Cheyenne’s second story, two Black fellows killed Brittney, was thoroughly investigated, and that clearly did not happen either,” according to Ritter.
Another interview with Cheyenne Antoine
On May 3, 2015, five weeks after Gargol’s murder, police chose to reinterview Antoine. This time, they met at the jail, where Antoine was housed while facing shoplifting charges.
“She was not willing to share anything with the police,” Ritter continued to Final Moments. “She wouldn’t talk about that evening at all.”
By then, it was “obvious” to investigators that Antoine was a suspect, according to Ritter. Still, there wasn’t enough to warrant an arrest in the case.
Gargol’s loved ones grew frustrated when the investigation seemingly lost traction and no arrests were made. They feared Gargol’s case would become cold.
“Why does nobody know what happened?” friend Nikki Allen recalled thinking when speaking with Final Moments. “This could happen to anybody else. It just drove me crazy.”
A call to the victim’s family breaks case wide open
Police kept Antoine in their sights when, out of the blue, Gargol’s family received a phone call from Antoine’s aunt. According to the aunt, Antoine returned home shortly after Gargol’s time of death and was in a “panicky state,” Ritter said.
“Cheyenne was drunk, crying, upset, saying that she had strangled her friend, Brittney,” Ritter continued.
Gargol’s family went to police, and they in turn contacted the aunt, who gave them the same version of events. Despite follow-up interviews with their prime suspect, Antoine still denied knowing anything about her friend’s death. In fact, Antoine publicly shared her grief when, on September 10, 2015 — six months after Gargol’s death — she again posted on Gargol’s Facebook page.
This time, the caption read: “I miss you so much. You came [and] visited me in my dream last night. Mis [sic] you sooo much. You were way too young to go. Rest in paradise, my angel.”
How a Selfie Video Led to a Murder Arrest
Antoine might have given conflicting accounts, and suspicions grew after her aunt’s statements to police, but there was still not enough to arrest her in connection with Gargol’s homicide. But then, in 2017, authorities had what Senior Crown Prosecutor Robin Ritter called an “aha moment” when authorities circled back to the selfie Gargol posted hours before her death.
In it, Antoine wore the very belt used to strangle Brittney Gargol to death.
“Here’s your key piece of evidence, and it’s in a picture on Facebook,” Sgt. Ernie Louttit told Final Moments. “It doesn’t get much better than that when you’re trying to prosecute somebody for murder.”
New lab testing confirmed the unknown D.N.A. on the belt belonged to Antoine, and she was arrested on charges of second-degree murder.
“It was shock and happiness because we finally had some answers,” friend Atasha Story said. “But I was shocked because of who it was.”
A conviction in the case
After the arrest, Antoine finally opened up to investigators, giving a new account of what happened in the early morning hours of March 24, 2015. This time, she admitted she and Gargol went to a house party and used drugs and alcohol.
Antoine said both were heavily under the influence and that her last memory was from about 4:30 a.m. after they went to McDonalds. At one point, the friends argued, but Antoine couldn’t remember why.
She claimed to have blacked out at some point, unable to recall what happened during Gargol’s final moments, but she woke hours later knowing something had gone terribly wrong.
“One of the frustrating things about her not really admitting what she did, there was no motive,” Ritter told Final Moments. “She didn’t offer a reason as to why she killed her friend.”
Prosecutors couldn’t establish criminal intent, but “reduced intent” was proven, according to Ritter, and so the charges against Antoine were reduced from second-degree murder to manslaughter.
Antoine pleaded guilty to the lesser charges and was sentenced to seven years in prison, which angered Gargol’s loved ones, including her stepmother, Vicki Wickenhauser, who spoke to reporters following sentencing.
“She was a wonderful person whose life was cut short,” Wickenhauser told the press. “And it’s not fair. It’s just not fair.”
Cheyenne Antoine will be eligible for parole in 2024.
Watch all-new episodes of Final Moments on Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.