Six years after a young mother was gunned down in Milton, authorities are hoping an increased reward and a fresh round of publicity will bring in new information on the unsolved homicide.
Last week, Crime Stoppers increased the reward amount up to $9,500 for any information leading to an arrest of whoever killed 29-year-old Brandy Christine Maples.
Maples was found outside of a residence near the corner of Morgan Road and Palomino Drive the morning of Jan. 20, 2016. She had died from multiple gunshot wounds.
According to Maples' family, Brandy most likely knew her killer.
"She knew someone was going to kill her, and she was texting people asking someone to come get her," said Kayla White, Maples’ niece.
But no one did.
In the days leading up to Maples' death, White said her aunt wasn't necessarily ostracized from the family, but distanced herself by her involvement in dangerous activities.
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"It was well-known that she was frequenting bad neighborhoods and was involved in drug use and did not live the cleanest lifestyle," White said.
White said the rumor they have heard over and over is that Maples had stolen over $500 worth of drugs from a dealer. According to that rumor, the dealer allegedly threatened Maples' life if she did not return the drugs by a certain date and made good on his promise to kill her when that day arrived.
White said the family believes there are a few people who were close to Maples who are keeping the killer's identity under wraps.
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office received numerous tips the day Maples was fatally shot, but things quickly went silent without any solid leads.
According to public information officer Sgt. Rich Aloy, increasing the Crime Stoppers award amount on the sixth anniversary of Maples' murder has brought in new tips over the past week.
"We've received tips, and we're looking though them very, very thoroughly," Aloy said.
White hopes renewed public interest in her aunt's murder will help bring closure to the family, especially to Maples' children.
Maples was a mother of four. Since her murder, White said three of the children were adopted together and now reside in Arizona. One still lives in Milton with her father.
"They know what happened to her, but not who it was," White said.
While Maples' family is aware that some of her own life choices may have played a part in her demise, they miss the Brandy who doted on her babies and was fun to be around.
"She had a spicy, feisty personality," White said. "I wanted to be just like her."
White said there is nothing extraordinary about her aunt's murder. It's something that happens too often when drugs are involved. The worst part is the silence that protects a killer who could strike again.
"That person is still walking around," White said. "Who is to say that you're not next?"
Another unsolved homicide that haunts White is that of Tyler Lee Howell. Howell was found on the side of John Hamm Road in 2018 deceased from gunshot wounds. Investigators believe the 21-year-old's homicide was also drug-related and that Howell knew the suspects.
"That's still an active case," Aloy said.
White remembers going to middle school with Howell and noticed that's when many of her classmates started getting entangled with drugs.
"I believe Brandy and Tyler Howell's cases reveal a deeper issue of drugs and violence that is plaguing Santa Rosa and Escambia counties," White said. "If we do not find their killers, violence and drugs will continue to destroy local families."
Maples' family hopes the increased Crime Stoppers reward will entice someone who knows something to come forward. The program is designed to collect tips with 100% anonymity ensured to alleviate fears of retaliation.
Until her crime is solved, White said the shooter should know Brandy Maples' family will never stop looking for justice.
"This is not going away," White said. "It's never going away."
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Santa Rosa County Crime Stoppers at 850-437-STOP.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Brandy Maples: Reward increased in 2016 Milton cold case homicide