A 1999 photo of Nicholle Marie Coppler, a 14-year-old Ohio runaway who went missing that year. Her remains were found in the demolition of a suspect's house in Lima, Ohio. (CBS/AP)
LIMA, Ohio (AP) - The skeletal remains of a 14-year-old Ohio runaway who went missing in 1999 have been found after the home where she was last seen was demolished, according to police.
The Lima News reports that Lima police on Saturday said the remains of Nicholle Coppler were found in a crawl space as the home's foundation was being dug out. Allen County Coroner Gary Beasley said they were identified through dental records.
The home was owned by Glen Fryer, who had been suspected in Coppler's death. The newspaper reports he was 55 when he killed himself in 2002 while awaiting sentencing for raping a girl.
The home was demolished after the state took possession due to unpaid taxes. Coppler's remains were the only ones found.
"I knew in my heart it was Nicholle," said the girl's mother, Krista Coppler, who now lives Florida. "I knew in my heart she never left that house."
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said the discovery means the homicide investigation is reopened. The newspaper reports that police have said Fryer had a link to human trafficking.
"Our goal is still the same: Try to get to the truth," Martin said. "Where exactly that will lead us I cannot say."
Lt. Jim Baker said detectives believe Fryer was involved in the death but that there also were other people. Police said other people knew the girl was in the house, and Lima police Maj. Richard Shade said at least two other people lived in the home with Fryer.
Krista Coppler said she doesn't feel the investigation was handled properly in 1999 but that police have since changed policy on runaways.
"If, in Nicholle's name, she can save some other girls, some good can come out of this," she said.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.