Mystery Monday’s S1 E1 – The Unsolved Murder of Elaine Nix
So, here it is, my first “Mystery Monday”, I am not going to lie, but I was so excited to research and share this with you all. I am so interested in these types of cases. I do find it so sad that even, now, in 2018 there are millions upon millions of cold cases that haven’t been solved. There are also tonnes of Jane and John Doe’s out there, with no family members claiming their bodies, which means they lie in unmarked graves. Or, worst still people who have been missing for years, who may or may not be also buried in unmarked graves.
Before I start this one, please note that whilst I am studying Psychology and Criminology, I am not a professional. The facts I have come across are from doing extensive research into the case. If anyone has any updates to add to any of the cases I’ll be posting on my blog, then please drop me an email and I’ll update them. You will, of course, be given credit for additional information given once it has been verified.
It was the 20th of September 1999 and eighteen-year-old Elaine Nix had driven to Zack’s Food Rack, located at 2052 Candler Road in Gainesville. It was a little shop (or convenience store) in Gainesville, Georgia where Elaine lived. Elaine wasn’t there to visit the shop which had closed at midnight, she was there for the payphone in the parking lot.
She was using the payphone to call her boyfriend, the call lasted an hour. He lived over thirty miles away in Cleveland, Ohio which despite being in the same country, was considered a long distance phone call due to where Elaine lived with her mother, Becky Nix. Using a normal landline to call would have cost a lot of money, which is why Elaine chose to drive to the payphone.
By the time she ended the call with her boyfriend, and according to the phone records of that payphone, it was 1 am. Elaine never returned home after the phone call to her boyfriend had ended, her mother, Becky didn’t go out looking for her, this was somewhat normal for Elaine who was fiercely independent and liked to go visit her friends, sometimes staying over.
At around 2 am a local police officer was doing his usual rounds and noticed a 1986 Toyota Celica lying empty in the parking lot of Zack’s Food Rack. According to the officer, there was no one around. Out of curiosity, he decided to investigate the empty car. He had felt the hood of the car which was still warm, the keys were left in the ignition, there was a purse in the back seat along with some cigarettes – both the purse and cigarettes belonged to Elaine. The officer did nothing with the vehicle, he left the parking lot and continued on his rounds.
The next morning Elaine’s mother, Becky decided to go to the last place she knew her daughter had visited, Zack’s Food Rack. Elaine had still not returned to her vehicle or shown up for work which her mother said was unusual for her, but the car remained where Elaine had left it and where the officer had last seen it, untouched with the contents still inside, parked in the car park. The keys were still in the ignition when Elaine’s mother arrived.
Becky then reported her daughter missing, for some reason Becky drove the car home. Once the police were informed a search commenced. Despite the active search for Elaine, the family of Elaine and her friends were somewhat optimistic that Elaine would be found alive and well. She had run away before, moved out of the family home and had always returned. They sadly assumed that this would be the case, again. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
The police continued to investigate her disappearance as they would any other. they looked over surveillance footage from the shop and they saw a dark coloured truck had driven past the area of Elaine’s last known location, but nothing else substantial came from the footage. Days passed, the search was still ongoing and the police still investigating. Residents of the town started actively looking in wooded and shrouded areas, they scoured creeks and a plethora of other locations, but to no avail.
Nine days after Elaine disappeared, her body was found in the wooded area near an isolated industrial park. The area was mainly used for fly-tipping or long-haul lorry drivers. Elaine was found completely nude, her clothes were never found. However, this was only the beginning of the puzzle. Although all her clothes were gone, her jewellery remained on her body. The motive of it being a burglary gone wrong was ruled out due to this and due to the fact that Elaine’s belongings were still in her car. The purse that she had left behind, still contained money in it.
They were unable to clarify an official cause of death due to the extent of Elaine’s decomposition. They were only able to identify Elaine due to her dental records and the variety of tattoos on her body. Even though her passing was classified as a homicide in the post-mortem, there were no signed of asphyxiation by strangulation, or any other physical forms of violence, such as trauma from a gunshot or stab wounds. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of whether or not there was any blunt force trauma to Elaine’s head.
Furthermore, an official cause of death couldn’t be determined because of the extent of decomposition. Elaine’s identity was confirmed solely by dental records and various tattoos. Even though her passing was classified as a homicide, during the post-mortem examination, there weren’t any signs of strangulation or any other form of physical harm such as gunshot and stab wounds.
The consensus from police is that the devastating death of Elaine was more than likely sexually motivated, but why, how and who is still undetermined. They also believe that she was abducted very shortly after her phone-call with Billy ended – and whomever the unidentified possible suspect is, was merely waiting for the opportunity. It’s unsure whether the truck recorded by surveillance plays a role in this situation.
Judging by the timeline, Elaine’s abductor would only have had a small window between the end of Elaine’s call to her boyfriend to the time the Police Officer arrived which only gives the abductor an hour to get Elaine subdued and into their vehicle. Although there is no evidence to suggest this, it may have been possible that Elaine knew her abductor and that would have meant there would have been no struggle or objection to getting into the person’s vehicle. You could also argue that the person that abducted Elaine had been watching her for a while and knew her movements, again there is no evidence to suggest this as there was next to no evidence to go on.
It’s usual for most small towns to have those individual’s that know everyone’s business, there’s also the rumour-mill which of course, had been rife with false truths and allegations against Elaine’s boyfriend, Billy. He was never charged and was ruled out very quickly as a suspect. However, in later years he was in trouble with the law on various occasions in which he was charged with a range of drug offences.
Elaine’s father, David Nix was interviewed by the Gainesville Times in 2005 and disclosed to the journalist that interviewed him that a witness had told him they saw four men dragging Elaine away from the phone booth by the shop. David wouldn’t disclose the name of the individual but did let the authorities know.
The case went cold until 2010 when an identical letter was sent to Elaine’s mother, Becky and her childhood friend, Jennifer Boyd. The letter was supposedly from a local businessman confessing and portraying information regarding the night that Elaine had disappeared and ultimately what happened to lead to her death. I did try looking for these letters, but they are nowhere online. If anyone does find them, send them along and I’ll update the post.
In the letter it was stated there were three people hanging out in a trailer, they decided to head out later in the evening to drink. It was around this time that they saw a young woman at a payphone. They offered her money, but she declined, there were no reasons given as to why the money was offered to the woman. It was then that they abducted her, but it’s not clear what had taken place.
The letter also contained an array of locations where police would find evidence proving the claims to be true, but the Sherriff’s Office advised that this information was false and misleading. They claimed that none of the information in the letter’s matched any of the current facts about the case. This leads me to believe that the letters were real, but also makes me question that if they were sent by a local businessman that was deemed “affluential” what his motive was for telling Elaine’s mother and friend about these false claims?
Since the letters were sent there were no further credible details brought to light and unfortunately, Elaine’s case has gone cold once more. The police, Elaine’s family and friends are no further forward in bringing Elaine’s murderer to justice. There has been no confirmed identification brought to light in relation to the truck driver. He could have been a local resident, or he could have been a long-haul driver that passed through the city and knew the industrial area as he had stopped there to rest before.
From the other articles and blogs I have read on Elaine’s case, one or two have mentioned the striking similarity to the unsolved disappearance and murder of Angela Hammond in 1991. I don’t believe this theory and I feel that people are far too quick to jump on the “serial killer” bandwagon. Not every murderer is a serial killer, I’d be focussing more on any apparent male suicides in the area of Gainesville, or even suicides that have involved long-haul truck drivers.
Another question that nags me, why did Elaine’s mother think it was a good idea to drive her daughter’s car home? If her daughter had left it there with a view to returning, wouldn’t it be best to leave the car where it was? Why didn’t the Police Officer notice the keys were in the ignition?
Obviously, none of the unanswered questions will bring Elaine back, if the Officer had of reported the vehicle as suspicious could Elaine have been found in time? I think probably not, but let me know what your thoughts are on this.
If you or anyone else has any information on the case then please get in contact with all Gwinnett County Police Department on (770) 513-5300.
Can’t wait to read your thoughts and comments on this. Let me know if you enjoyed this post and if there is a case in particular that you want me to cover.