Details of Disappearance
Brittney was playing outside of her family's residence at Village Manor Apartments during the evening hours of September 16, 1997. She went outside to ride her bicycle at approximately 7:30 p.m. Brittney's mother, Tina Stetler, left to run errands at approximately 8:30 p.m. and saw her daughter riding her bicycle around the neighborhood at that time.
Brittney's half-brother told authorities he saw his sister sitting on a bench about five minutes after their mother departed. A witness told investigators that he saw Brittney speaking to an unidentified male driving a red or brown mid-size vehicle shortly thereafter. Brittney walked over to the witness and told him that she "made a new friend." Brittney has never been seen again.
Stetler returned home at approximately 9:05 p.m. and asked Brittney's brother to find her. The authorities were summoned when the child could not be located near the apartment complex, which is located on U.S. 12, the major thoroughfare through Sturgis. Brittney's bicycle was discovered abandoned shortly after she was last seen.
Sketches of the unidentified man seen speaking to Brittney were distributed through the area in the days following her disappearance. One of the sketches is posted with this case summary. It is not known if the man is connected to her case. He was in his late twenties or early thirties with short dark hair and a thick mustache and was driving either a mid-sized red car or a brown Renault. Police are still looking for the man; he is not being called a suspect, but a witness whom they would like to question.
Michigan courts removed Brittney's older brother and younger sister from the family's home in 1998 after allegations of child physical and sexual abuse and neglect were issued. Brittney's father, Raymond Beers; his brother, James Beers; and Kevin Folsom, the father of one of her half-brothers, were allegedly involved in the abuse of the children. Folsom was imprisoned for molesting Brittney, but he was released in 2008.
Brittney's case received more publicity in 2000 after the arrest of a St. Clair Shores, Michigan man who had images of child sexual abuse saved on his computer. One of the victims resembled Brittney, but was later determined not to be the missing girl.
In 2015, police named Daniel Furlong as a person of interest in Brittney's abduction. He abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled an eleven-year-old girl, Jodi Parrack, in 2007. The murder was not solved until 2015, after Furlong abducted a ten-year-old girl who subsequently escaped from him. After he became a suspect in the child's abduction, he provided a DNA sample which linked him to Jodi's murder. He subsequently confessed to the murder, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. He stated he'd picked Jodi at random and that he'd intended to kill the ten-year-old he kidnapped.
Furlong bears a striking resemblance to the sketch of the man seen with Brittney prior to her disappearance, his known crimes were similar to Brittney's disappearance, and Jodi closely resembled her. He has maintained his innocence in her case, but remains one of the few persons of interest. A photo of Furlong is posted with this case summary.
Brittney's case remains open and unsolved.