The body of a mother of two who disappeared in Atlanta last week was found burning on the side of the road.
Police are searching for her killer.
On June 17 at about 1 a.m., Brittany Wicklein, 31, was walking home with a friend after going to a store at 901 Joseph E. Boone Boulevard in Atlanta when a black car drove past them, backed up and stopped in front of them, according to an Atlanta Police Department incident report obtained by PEOPLE.
The friend told police that a man inside the car was “screaming at Wicklein to get in.”
Wicklein got into the car, which sped off.
The friend called Wicklein’s phone and a man answered, demanding $50,000 “for Wicklein causing his mother’s house to be shot up,” the report says.
The man quickly increased the amount to $100,000 before hanging up.
At about 4 p.m. on June 17, the friend called 911 and police began searching for Wicklein, posting pictures of her online.
At some point, the man who demanded the $100,000 from the friend called a relative of Wicklein’s, demanded money, and said, “Tell your cousin goodbye its (sic) your last time talking to her,” the incident report says.
Investigators began canvassing areas Wicklein was known to frequent, speaking with her friends and family members, and working to determine whose vehicle she entered, police said in a summary of the investigation.
“Approximately 12 hours after police were contacted and approximately 27 hours after she was said to have entered the black vehicle, Ms. Wicklein’s body was found in the City of South Fulton,” the summary said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Wicklein was wanted on three counts of aggravated battery in connection with a 2020 incident in Illinois.
On Saturday, firefighters in South Fulton responded to a call about a grass fire on the side of Jones Road near Ga. 42, the AJC reports.
After they extinguished the fire, they found a woman’s body, city spokesman Gary Leftwich told the paper.
In an email to PEOPLE, Lefwich wrote, “This was one of two incidents within a week in which our firefighters found burned bodies at separate fire scenes. Ms. Wicklein’s case originated with her abduction in Atlanta with her body eventually dumped in South Fulton.
“As both remain under investigation, we are unable to provide additional details,” Leftwich added.
On Monday, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that the victim in the fire was Wicklein, the AJC reports.
As police continue to investigate, Wicklein’s family, friends and children are mourning her loss.
When Wicklein went out to the store on June 17, her aunt, Melba Scott, never dreamed she’d never see her niece again.
“She left her purse, my door, her lights on, her makeup like she’s coming right back,” Scott told 11 Alive. “I haven’t moved anything either. I’m telling you we’re in so much shock.”
Wicklein and her two children had recently moved from Indiana to Atlanta and lived with Scott.
“I wish I could turn back the clocks because I wish I could protect her,” she said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help defray funeral costs and help support Wicklein’s two children.
In the meantime, the devastated family is left to grapple with Wicklein’s murder.
“We’re broken right now,” Scott told 11 Alive. “We lost somebody that was the light of the room to us. We lost somebody. It’s going to take us years to heal.”
Prayers go out to Brittany’s family and friends.