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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Remains Found in Mountains May Be Teen's

April 20, 1999|TINA DIRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A search-and-rescue team scouring the Mt. Pinos area over the weekend discovered scattered human skeletal remains and fears that the bones may belong to a Ventura teenager missing since October.

Authorities believe the remains are those of 17-year-old Nichole Lee Hendrix, a Pacific High School student who failed to return home after calling her mother to say she was on her way.

Acting on a tip, the sheriff's search-and-rescue team began scouring the area near Pine Mountain on Saturday morning, authorities said. By noon, a member of the team discovered the scattered and badly decomposed remains.

Coroner's officials are still trying to identify the body through dental records, but sheriff's detectives believe the body could belong to Hendrix.

"That's our main belief right now," said Sheriff's Sgt. Bob LeMay.

Medical examiners performed an autopsy Monday, and the results are expected today, coroner's officials said.

Hendrix, known as "Nickki," was last seen by friends on Oct. 15 wearing a white T-shirt and blue shorts and carrying a black purse. Friends told authorities that Hendrix, a blond who had recently cropped her hair short and died it black, was with a female acquaintance in a red Dodge Dakota pickup driving through the west Ventura area.

The pickup, later found abandoned in a Ventura neighborhood, is believed to belong to another friend of Hendrix.

The girl's parents told authorities their daughter had run away from home before, but always made sure she called to say she was OK, authorities said.

On the night she disappeared, Hendrix called her parents to say she would be home soon and asked them to leave the door unlocked, authorities said.

Five days later, there was still no word from the student, and her parents contacted authorities.

Friends and family posted fliers about the girl's disappearance all over the city, but received no word of her.

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