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Remains of missing Florida teen identified 39 years later

Posted at 5:10 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 17:10:50-04

MIAMI-DADE, Fla — The Glades County Sheriff's Office says they have identified a missing teen remains almost 40 years after her disappearance.

The remains were confirmed to be those of 16-year-old Nicki Elkins.

Investigators say Elkins left her family's house in Miami on Valentine's Day of 1981 to visit her boyfriend and disappeared.

In March of 1981, investigators say the remains of an unknown female victim were found in nearby Glades County.

With the combined hard work of Miami-Dade cold case Detective Suzane, District 21 Medical Examiner’s Office, Captain Michael Pepitone of Glades County Sheriff’s Office, the National Missing & Unidentified Persons System, and the general public, 39 years later, Glades County’s Jane Doe was identified as Nicki Elkins.

Investigators say in the early 1980s; it was difficult to communicate across law enforcement jurisdictions was much more difficult.

They believed the remains were believed to be those of an older female.

More highly developed forensic science techniques proved she was younger when former Glades Glades County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant Don Salo reopened the cold case in 2008.

Investigators sent Jane Doe’s skeletal remains to the UNT Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) for DNA testing.

Her case was later entered into the National Missing & Unidentified Persons System for comparison.

GCSO says a new reconstruction was completed by Miami-Dade Police Department’s Forensic Artist Samantha Steinberg in May of 2019 and released to the public.

In April 2020, Detective Suzanne Gowdie entered Nicki Elkins' missing person’s case into NamUs, and requests were made for familial DNA samples.

Potential comparison between Glades County’s Jane Doe case and Miami-Dade’s Nicki Elkins case, noting similar physical attributes, time periods, and the presence of a small “N” tattoo on each woman’s thumb.

Investigators say DNA samples from Jane Doe and Nicki Elkins’ family members were compared and identified as Nicki.

Glades County Sheriff’s Office says they are now facing the task of solving the decades-old homicide.

If you have any information leading to a suspect's arrest in the 1981 murder of Nicki Elkins, contact the Glades County Sheriff's Office at 863-946-1600.