A passerby stumbled upon the 18-year-old woman’s body on the side of the road, not far from the Saskatoon, Sask., landfill.
Brittney Gargol’s strangled body was cold to the touch, according to the man who found her there just after 5 a.m. on March 25, 2015. Gargol did not have shoes on, the CBC reports, and beside her body was a belt.
But it would be two years before Canadian police would identify and arrest the suspect in the mysterious death — and a selfie posted on Facebook just hours before Gargol’s death was key to unraveling the mystery, the CBC reports.
Gargol’s best friend, Cheyenne Rose Antoine, now 21, told police that the pair had been out together at a house party that night until Antoine decided to leave to go see an uncle, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reports.
“Where are you?” Antoine wrote on Facebook later in the night, the StarPhoenix reports. “Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe.”
Antoine’s uncle confirmed to police that Antoine had split up with Gargol to visit him that night, the newspaper reports.
When police saw the selfie the pair of friends had posted earlier in the night, though, it provided investigators with a clue they needed, according to the StarPhoenix: In the picture, Antoine was wearing a black belt — the same one that was uncovered at the crime scene, police said. And the belt was the murder weapon, according to prosecutors.
“It’s quite remarkable how the police developed this information,” prosecutor Robin Ritter said Monday in court, according to the newspaper.
The belt made Antoine a suspect, and she was arrested and charged with second degree murder. On Monday, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, and was sentenced to seven years in prison, CKOM reports.
Antoine told police the two had gotten into an argument after a night of drinking, the CBC reports. She had confessed the same story to another friend, police said, which helped lead authorities to Antoine as a suspect in the case.
Gargol’s family spoke at Antoine’s sentencing Monday.
“You were her friend. She loved you, she respected you and she trusted you,” said Gargol’s stepmother, Kristi Wickenhauser, according to CKOM. “And instead you decided to wrap a belt around her throat and squeeze until you ended her life.”
Antoine doesn’t remember strangling her best friend to death, her defense attorney said. But she was using both drugs and alcohol at the time of Gargol’s death, according to CKOM, which could have led to memory loss.
The Facebook post asking where Antoine was was meant to mislead police, prosecutors said.
“I’ll never forgive myself. Nothing I say or do will ever bring her back,” said Antoine’s statement about the incident, which was read in court Monday, according to CTV. “I’m really, really sorry. It’s wrong and shouldn’t have happened.”
At her court appearance Monday, Antoine’s lawyer, Lisa Watson, said her client grew up in foster care and had suffered through sexual, emotional and physical abuse, CTV reports.
“My client had some very deep-seeded personal issues that she was not dealing with and unfortunately, for whatever reason, we’ll never know, they turned into a very tragic situation for all involved,” Watson said.
Watson also said that Antoine was addicted to opioids and other drugs in the months prior to the killing, according to CTV.
“The fact that she was responsible for her best friend’s death weighs heavily on her,” Watson said.