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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Remains Identified as Missing 17-Year-Old From Ventura

Crime: Investigators are treating the disappearance of Nichole Hendrix as a homicide. Bones were near where the body of Kali Manley was found.

April 21, 1999|MASSIE RITSCH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Authorities confirmed Tuesday that the decomposed remains found scattered in the Pine Mountain area over the weekend were those of Nichole Lee "Nickki" Hendrix, a 17-year-old Ventura girl who disappeared last October.

Authorities are now investigating the case as a homicide but say they have no suspects.

The Ventura County medical examiner used dental records to make the identification late Monday night. Further autopsy results, including information on the time and cause of death, may be released today.

"The remains have been down there for quite some time, several months," Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Regan said.

Hendrix, who sporadically attended Pacific High School, a continuation school in Ventura, was last seen Oct. 15. On the night she disappeared, authorities said, she telephoned her parents to say she would be home soon and to leave the door unlocked.

On Tuesday, a search-and-rescue team, dogs and detectives made several more sweeps through the steep ravine below California 33 where Hendrix's scattered remains were found Sunday northwest of Ojai. Not all of her bones have been recovered. Searchers speculate some may have been carried off by animals.

"We don't have anything particular that we're looking for, maybe just more remains," Regan said. Investigators have recovered evidence other than Hendrix's remains, but they would not specify what they had found.

Hendrix's bones were discovered close to where authorities found the body of Oak View 14-year-old Kali Manley, who was strangled last December. Investigators dismissed speculation that the two cases are connected and added that Hendrix's apparent slaying does not appear related to the recent disappearances of three young women in San Luis Obispo County.

Hendrix's mother, Shelly Holland, said she was glad investigators had found her missing daughter's remains, if only to bring closure to more than six months of worrying and grief.

"This helps us as a family to be able to put her to rest and go on with our lives," Holland said at her west Ventura home Tuesday. The family has scheduled a memorial service for Monday.

Neighbors and friends remembered Hendrix as a friendly girl with a quick smile who lived in the house that her mother grew up in.

Hendrix had been picked up several times by authorities in drug cases and had run away from home before.

Holland described her daughter as a typical teenager who had many friends. Even when Hendrix ran away, Holland said, she always called home to say she was OK.

"We loved her for what she was. We knew the things she did," Holland said. "Regardless of anything Nickki did, she loved us."

Holland and her husband, Bryan, would not comment on what details investigators have told them about the case, nor would they speculate on who might have killed the teen.

"We don't want to disrupt the case," Shelly Holland said.

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