Who Killed Britney Tiger Gomez?

Updated: Nov 14



Britney Tiger “had a heart of gold,” according to her sister Jessica Tyson. Jessica told Dateline that, as a mother, sister, daughter, aunt and friend, Britney always wore a smile and forever lent a helping hand.

At 26 years old, Britney was the youngest of three sisters living in Ada, Oklahoma. Jessica, the oldest of the trio, told Dateline that her baby sister Britney was “a fire cracker,” but “kind, genuine and gorgeous -- even on the inside.”

In 2017, Britney’s days were dedicated to taking care of her three young children — Jaylen, 9, Christian, 7, and Sameiya, 4 — and spending time with loved ones. In September of that year, the family grew by one when Britney married Will Gomez. The pair was inseparable, according to Britney’s sister.

Britney and the kids moved into Will’s house and the newly-formed family of five lived together in what friends described as a happy home. But just five months into the marriage, something inexplicable happened.

On February 11, 2018, the children were staying with their biological fathers. Will would later tell police that he and Britney took the opportunity to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. But at 3:30 a.m., when Will stirred in his sleep, he found the space bedside him empty. Britney was nowhere to be found.

After not hearing from Britney in a little over a week, Britney’s family grew concerned. Britney’s sister Jessica and their mother, Bernadine, live only a half mile away from Britney’s house and, according to Jessica, Britney never went far without telling her mother.

On February 19, 2018, Britney’s half-sister Christina Lewis reported Britney missing to the Ada Police Department. Ada police officers promptly went to the Gomez home to conduct a welfare check. Ada Police Department Detective Brian Engel told Dateline that Britney’s husband Will was there, and they took his statement at the house.

According to police, Will said Britney must have left when he was sleeping, taking a couple of hoodies and a bag of makeup with her. At the time, police believed that Britney left willingly on foot, as neither she nor her husband owned a car.

But Britney’s family maintains she would never have abandoned her children of her own accord. They grew frustrated as the days and weeks went by with no sign of Britney.

Verified News Network spoke with Tiger’s mother Bernadine Bear-Heels who told them Tiger messaged her just days before she disappeared, saying she planned to leave her husband, William Gomez. That would be the last time Bear-Heels would ever speak to her daughter. Bear-Heels said, “I messaged Will and told him go file a missing person’s report. I said go now. And he said he would. Well, all throughout that weekend he never did go.”

“The weeks of waiting and trying to look for her [and] hoping she’d been found were awful and long,” Jessica said. Jessica told Dateline she remembers the days after Britney disappeared as “something you think to see on TV or a bad movie.”

According to the Ada Police Department and Jessica, Britney’s husband Will didn’t seem to share the same desperation to find Britney. Authorities told Dateline that Will said he wasn’t worried that Britney was missing because, he told them, Britney commonly left for weeks at a time. For that reason, Will told investigators, when Britney disappeared, he carried on with his own routine and even felt comfortable leaving the city for a period of time. Britney’s sister Jessica disputes Will’s claim that Britney often left for weeks at a time without telling anyone.

“The Ada Police Department received information that Gomez traveled to the Shawnee, Oklahoma area after [Britney] was missing, allegedly to visit his father who lives in that area – to do some work there with him,” Det. Engel told Dateline.


“[Will] claimed to be mad at her for ‘leaving unannounced,’” Jessica said. “So he went and worked in Oklahoma City.” Neither Jessica nor the Ada Police Department knows what kind of work Will was allegedly doing there.

Will Gomez did not respond to Dateline’s request for comment on this report.

“She never went anywhere without Will,” Jessica told Dateline. “He was always right by her side. That’s why we found it strange that when she first went missing, he didn’t ever ask to see if she was at our house.”

Family, friends and authorities continued to search for Britney. And then, on March 16, 2018 -- about a month after Britney disappeared, a local cattleman came upon Britney’s body in a wooded area by Kullihoma Indian Stomp Grounds, 15 miles from Britney’s house.

Tiger’s body was found about 200 yards behind a fence in a field on County Road 3680 just a mile south of the Kullihoma Stomp grounds in Pontotoc County. Local law enforcement said it was clear she did not get there on her own. Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian said: “A person who had that property leased and had cattle on it was out there with his children checking the cattle and actually drove up on the body, realized what it was and called and reported it, We arrived shortly thereafter.” The Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Office was the first law enforcement agency on the scene. Christian said Tiger’s clothes were pulled up and her body laid out, consistent with her being dragged into the field from the road, and left there. “Like possibly someone was dragging her by her legs and therefore her arms were following behind,” Christian said. “I believe from indications that I saw that it appears that someone took her body out there,” Christian said. “I do not believe that she was alive on that property. I think that she was already deceased just from what indications I saw. And was took there and left.” The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was called in to take control of the death scene investigation. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office determined the body was Tiger’s, and the investigation was turned back over to Ada Police, where the original missing person report was filed.

“She came home,” Jessica told Dateline. “Just not the way we wanted her to. It hurts to think my sister, whom I loved all her life, was in such an area and in such a way. It was cold and rainy a lot during that time.”

An autopsy report released later that month states that the cause and manner of Britney’s death is unknown but that meth was found in her system. Bear-Heels told us her daughter’s problems with drugs had been going on for at least a couple years.

The report also details how Britney was found lying on her back with her hands above her head. The body was already in a state of decomposition, according to the autopsy report. Methamphetamine addiction is not uncommon in rural areas like Pontotoc County

Initially, Ada Police Detective Brian Engel told local media that the case would be treated as a homicide.

“Given the circumstances, and that she was found deceased out in a wooded area, we’re treating the investigation as a homicide at this time,” the detective said in March of 2018.

Now, almost a year later, Engel told Dateline “there is no current evidence that a crime has been committed” and the case has not officially been classified as a homicide.

“They’re right now just interviewing different persons of interest and looking at different people,” City of Ada Public Information Director Lisa Bratcher said. “There’s several people that fall into that category right now.” Gomez is one of them.

The police report states when Ada Police interviewed Gomez initially, he was flagged in the National Crime Information Center with a note for law enforcement to contact Federal Probation. A reason why was not given in the report. So VNN did our own digging and found out that this was not the first time a marriage to William Shelby Gomez ended with crime. Gomez applied for a marriage license with his first wife Angela Jones in Oklahoma County in June 2011, when he was 19 years old. According to court records on June 20, the day the marriage certificate was recorded and returned to the couple, the pair robbed an Arvest Bank in Choctaw, Oklahoma, of more than $7,000. Jones told investigators Gomez shoved a shotgun into her side and forced her to take part in the robbery, and threatened to harm her parents if she drove away from the bank and left him there. Gomez pled guilty to robbing the bank and using a shotgun in the robbery the following September. He was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution, along with 4 years federal probation after serving his prison time, which was set to end in February 2019. Jones filed for divorce in December 2013. Fast forward a handful of years, Gomez and Tiger applied for a marriage license in April 2017 but did not actually get married. They re-applied in August 2017 and did. It’s unclear if law enforcement is still in contact with Gomez.

“They would have his initial information when they did interviews early on, but I’m not sure,” Bratcher said. “I don’t have that information if they know as of right now where he is.” VNN has tried to locate Gomez to hear what he has to say about Tiger’s disappearance, death and what he thinks might have happened, but the attempts have been unsuccessful so far. Bratcher said the police cannot speculate on what may have happened, or even where the crimes were actually committed. Christian said even if she did overdose, which has been unable to be determined, whoever played a role in Tiger’s death will face several potential charges. “Improper disposal of human remains. Also maybe they’re the ones who gave the drugs to her, so you may have a homicide,” Christian said. “You still have a homicide if they are the person who gave drugs to her that killed her. So there’s a lot of things there that still need to be determined and looked at.”

Jessica says she and her family held a closed-casket ceremony soon after Britney’s body was recovered. According to Jessica, the family feels grateful for the closure brought by bringing Britney home, but they continue to fight for justice.

“My sister’s case is still ongoing. We haven’t found answers. And every time we think we are on the right road to something, it’s another dead end. We want the truth,” Jessica said.

Ada Police Department detectives told Dateline they continue to interview people in connection with Britney’s case.

“Information is being followed up on as it is being made available,” Det. Engel told Dateline. “The Ada Police Department continues to gather information in reference to Britney and follow up on it as it comes to light.”

“I’m sure everybody would like to figure out what ultimately happened to Britney so they’re obviously going to keep interviewing and asking questions,” Bratcher said. Tiger left behind three kids. Her oldest, an eight year old son. This year will be the family’s first holiday season without Tiger, who tells VNN they still love and miss the young mother every day. “He (her oldest son) would tell me, he goes I wish we could start our lives over so we can have Mommy,” Bear-Heels said. “I said me, too. Me, too.” “I want people to know that our condolences are with her family,” Bratcher said, “and if anybody has any information at all to please call the Ada Police Department.” Both the police department and sheriff’s office agreed: that’s the best shot they have of finding out the truth about what happened to Tiger. Christian said he believes there is more than one person out there with the answers. “The person who took the body out there and left it,” Christian said. “They know what happened. They know what they did. And I don’t think they did it alone. I think they had assistance in disposing of her body and so there’s more than one individual that can come forward.”


Find our episode on Britney Tiger wherever you stream you podcasts or click here:

https://open.spotify.com/episode/3NdCFiB2G8iYh052HD7bqB?si=305f4085efa541ce

--------------------------------------------------------


Native American women go missing and murdered at higher rates than the national average, and Native Americans in general go missing and murdered at a higher rate than other races here in Oklahoma.

According to Potawatami.org- Article called Invisible No More


For more than 80 percent of Native American and Alaska Native women, experiencing violence throughout their lifetimes is a harsh reality. In fact, Native women in some areas of the country are murdered at 10 times the national average. Often the public perceives that most missing and murdered Indigenous women cases occur on rural reservations, but 71 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives live in urban areas. Oklahoma is home to 39 tribes and ranks 10th in the nation for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The article addressed the need for greater communication between law enforcement and tribes.


Olivia Gray, citizen of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, director of the Osage Nation Family Violence Prevention Department and founding member of the Northeast Oklahoma Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives says: “We already notify tribes now when there is an Indian child that goes into foster care. … So why can’t we make this a part of the process when there’s a missing person’s report or there’s a murder victim found?” Gray asked. “Let’s make it a part of the process to contact that tribe, because it’s their citizen. And it’s not just their citizen, it’s their relative.”

Additionally, Native women experience violence by interracial perpetrators at a higher rate than any other race, and often violence starts at home.

“It’s not just a missing and murder issue. More times than not, the cases that we look into on that end are tied to domestic violence or trafficking or sexual assaults or childhood sexual assaults,” Gray said.


Systemic gaps

In 1978, a U.S. Supreme Court case determined tribes cannot prosecute non-Native perpetrators who commit crimes on tribal or reservation land. Legislation that restores tribal jurisdiction and sovereignty as nations is one key component to overcoming this epidemic.

“Beyond that, if we’re not going to be restoring the right of the local governments on the ground to protect women where they live in their homes, then we need to be thinking about legislation that provides resources and funding to tribal law enforcement,” said Mary Kathryn Nagle, Cherokee Nation citizen, attorney at Pipestem Law and missing and murdered Indigenous women’s activist.


Lacking a joint database for municipalities, states, tribes and the federal government to report and manage cases makes it more difficult to track MMIW numbers and is not conducive to open communication. Native women are falling through the system’s cracks.

“We also need to think about giving tribal law enforcement access to national databases and then mechanisms that will ensure that state, local and county governments also put Native women who are murdered or go missing into that database,” she added.

More than 5,700 Indigenous women across the United States were missing or murdered in 2016, but the Department of Justice database accounted for only 116 of those, according to an Urban Indian Health Institute study.


“If a crime is committed against Native women, the jurisdiction falls to the state if it is not on tribal lands, and all too often, the state doesn’t have the desire or the wherewithal to prosecute or investigate crimes committed against Native women, and oftentimes those cases go unprosecuted or uninvestigated, which is a huge problem,” Nagle said.

Until recently, most news outlets did not cover the issue in-depth, and the public’s lack of education creates additional hurdles to overcome.

“The media has a short attention focus, and I think for the most part, Native women are invisible. The invisibility is really hard to combat, and it leads to a lot of situations where we’re just left out,” she said.


Oklahoma will receive federal funding to hire a murdered and missing indigenous persons coordinator as the Department of Justice takes greater steps to address disproportionately high rates of violence affecting Native American communities.

Oklahoman-


The coordinator will develop protocols for how law enforcement should respond when tribal members go missing in an attempt to reduce confusion that can delay search efforts.

“The reason that coordination piece is so important is if everybody is doing something different then we are less coordinated and we are less uniform in our response,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “If we have a missing persons case, then those first 48 hours are especially critical and we want to ensure that all of our law enforcement partners are on the same page.”


Cases of missing and murdered indigenous people are complicated by jurisdictional issues partly because the law enforcement response can vary if a crime occurred on or off tribal land.


The coordinator will be based in Tulsa, but will work with the state's three U.S. District Attorney’s offices to serve the entire state and all 39 federally recognized tribes, said Shores, who serves the Northern District of Oklahoma.


The Department of Justice will spend $1.5 million so 11 states with significant Native American populations can hire coordinators to work with federal, state, tribal and local law entities to address the problem of missing and murdered indigenous people, a trend that predominantly affects native women.


Data collection and analysis also will be a major part of the coordinator’s job, Shores said.

Across the country, there is a widespread lack of comprehensive data on the number of missing or murdered indigenous people. Oklahoma has one of the highest rates, according to various reports, but without complete data it’s hard to get a full picture of the problem.

“What we find is that there are a diverse variety of statistics purporting to be accurate when it comes to the number of missing persons in Indian Country,” Shores said.


Shores said his office has identified roughly 40-50 open cases of missing or murdered indigenous people in Oklahoma that are actively being investigated by federal authorities, but that number can fluctuate as they talk to women’s shelters or tribal partners or as missing persons are found.


Gen Hadley, with the southwest Oklahoma chapter of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, recently told state lawmakers there are about 130 cases statewide.

Hadley and dozens of other native women packed a Capitol hearing room last month to plead for legislators to take notice of the high number of unsolved Native American homicides and missing persons cases. Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, held an interim study to explore what the state can do to improve the situation.

At the time, Hadley said the tribes needed more "boots on the ground" people to help solve the problem.


She doesn't consider the coordinator position to be "boots on the ground," but she is hopeful the person hired will form close bonds with the tribes and the state's half dozen Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women chapters.


The indigenous persons coordinators are part of a nationwide strategy Attorney General William Barr launched Nov. 22 to address the “unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence” indigenous people face. In conjunction, President Donald Trump formed a White House task force on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Hadley also hopes some of the coordinators hired are Native American women who may have close and personnel connections to the issue.


"Who is he going to put into all those positions?" she said of Barr. "Are they going to be Native American? Are they going to be women or are they going to be all men, and all non-native men? That’s what bothers me because they don’t know. They’re not here directly dealing with the grieving families, their not here to go on searches with us when we have to drop everything and go on a search."


The federal government also will identify ways to improve missing persons data and share that information.


Also as part of the new initiative, the FBI will establish rapid deployment teams of expert agents that tribal, state or local law enforcement can call when an indigenous person goes missing.


Barr's announcement was widely praised.


A man was arrested in connection and charged with moving her body, but the case remains unsolved. -------------------------------------------------------------------

POTTAWATOMIE HOUSE OF HOPE – FACEBOOK.COM/CPNHOUSEOFHOPE

(You can also find house of hope on the Pottawatomie.org website.)


House of Hope offers free assistance to individuals, Native and non-Native, who have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking that reside in Pottawatomie, Seminole, Oklahoma, Lincoln and Cleveland County.

The House of Hope seeks to eliminate family violence by providing victims and the community with appropriate, effective services and programs. We bring people together to build networks and to learn from each other to make central Oklahoma a safer place to be.


Some of our many services include: Shelter: For shelter services please call 405-878-HOPE 24/7 Safety Planning Assistance with locating Emergency shelter Court advocacy VPO Assistance Resources Emergency Transportation Emergency Clothing Assistance Parenting Education Domestic Violence Support Group 24 Hour Crisis Intervention


There are many support and referral agencies that can provide assistance to anyone in need. In an emergency call 911. Citizen Potawatomi Nation Family Violence Program 405.275.3176 Oklahoma Safeline 800.522.SAFE (7233) *Over 150 Languages Spoken* Women's Resource Center - Norman 405.701.5540 Citizen Potawatomi Nation 24 Hour Tribal Police Dispatch 405.878.4818 National Domestic Violence Hotline 800.787.3244

CHICKASAW NATION'S VIOLENCE PREVENTION CENTER (press release, chickasaw.net)

Located at 1921 Stonecipher Blvd., the Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Center offers services to strengthen families and help promote stability and a safer home environment. Office Locations in Ada, Ardmore, OKC.


The Chickasaw Nation is dedicated to offering assistance to families who are experiencing domestic violence situations. The Chickasaw Nation has offered these services since 1994 and expanded them in 2008.


“With the opening of the Violence Prevention Center, we are able to consolidate and expand services for men and women who are seeking assistance dealing with domestic violence situations,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “There would be nothing better than to have no need for a center like this, but the need is there. So long as the need is there, we need to be there to help meet that need.”


Counseling, career services, education programs and assistance with everyday needs will be offered at the 11,000-square-foot facility.


Located adjacent to the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, families receiving services through the Violence Protection Center will also have greater access to integrated health and wellness services.


Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Services are voluntary and available to Native and non-Native individuals and their dependents who meet eligibility criteria.

For more information about the Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Program, call 580-272-5580 or visit CHICKASAW.NET/DOMESTICVIOLENCE. https://www.chickasaw.net/DomesticViolence


SOURCES:

https://www.websleuths.com/forums/threads/ok-britney-gomez-26-ada-11-feb-2018.366719/

http://www.justicefornativewomen.com/2018/02/britney-gomez-missing-from-oklahoma.html

https://cw39.com/news/nationworld/missing-oklahoma-woman-has-ties-to-dallas-police-say/

https://www.kswo.com/missing-murdered-indigenous-women-

https://www.nativewomenssociety.org/mmiw

https://www.potawatomi.org/invisible-no-more/ www.facebook.com/justiceforbritney

Dateline, Ada News, And Verified News Network, The Oklahoman


Verified News Network (VNN) is an internet-based news network that officially launched in July 2018. Verified News Network’s “Missing and Murdered” segment aims to highlight crimes committed against Native American women in Oklahoma.