Body confirmed to be woman missing since 1985 in Poughkeepsie

July 1, 2013 7:57:47 PM PDT
A contractor working on a vacant Hudson Valley home where a woman who was reported missing nearly 30 years ago once lived has found her body.

Dutchess County Medical Examiner Dr. Kari Reiber confirmed to Eyewitness News that the remains discovered at 720 Vassar Road on Friday are that of 55-year-old JoAnn Nichols.

Reiber also determined the death was a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head.

The remains were identified through dental records. Police had her records on file and they were compared with teeth found with the remains.

Reiber said the body was skeletonized. Her state is consistent with having died about 30 years ago.

She was found in a sealed container big enough to hold a body. The container was well hidden in the basement of the home behind a false wall.

Police say the home belonged to James Nichols, who died at age 82 last December. Police say he reported his wife Joann missing in December 1985 after she didn't show up for an appointment at a beauty parlor. She was never found.

Neighbors described Mr. Nichols as an intense hoarder. Police confirm the home was a mess with lots of debris inside.

"It's really weird. It really is," said Delores Casella, Poughkeepsie resident.

"With everything going on, they probably didn't look in all of the right areas, they just looked probably around the house and didn't really check the walls," said Patrick VanTine, Poughkeepsie resident.

"She probably was around there somewhere. I always said it," said Judy Wyskida, Poughkeepsie resident.