BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - More than 45 years after a Boone County man vanished, detectives are calling it murder as they follow new leads that could crack the case wide open.
For 46 long, painful years, those closest to Edward ‘Ed’ Nichols have wondered what happened to their brother, their son, their friend.
“In our hearts, we know he’s gone, but there’s that emptiness because of not knowing,” Janice Kincaid, Nichols’ sister, said.
The 22-year-old was last seen on the morning of Dec. 3, 1974, when he left his Florence home to go hunting with another man. The two stopped at a convenience store, according to investigators, and then headed to a wooded area not far from Big Bone Lick State Park.
Nichols never returned home.
The young man came from a large family and had seven siblings who loved him and still miss him to this day.
“He was just fun-loving. He loved life,” Kincaid said. “I can still see him, even now, I can still see him running around with that curly head of hair of his.”
There have been a number of theories that have developed over the years. Eventually, the missing person case turned into a murder investigation, although Nichols’ body has never been found.
“Kind of devastating sometimes,” Peggy Stratman, Nichols’ sister, said. “It’s very hard to think about it and relive the whole thing.”
More than four decades later, Boone County Detective Coy Cox says he and his partner are digging into some new leads. In the coming weeks, he says they will be interviewing more people and searching for Nichols’ remains again.
“In about an eight-mile radius, we’ve searched a lot of property,” Cox said.
Cox says they have looked into possible connections to local farms, including one where Nichols partied with friends in the ‘70s. They are also investigating a confession letter from an inmate.
“We believe that is a very valid piece of evidence that we just aren’t finished vetting yet,” Cox said.
One possible motive, according to Cox, is a love triangle. Nichols’ sisters believe Nichols was set up and killed the day he disappeared.
“Some people have said, you know, maybe this was an angry lover type situation. We’ve looked at a few of those scenarios,” Cox said. “We have worked on those and continue to work on one of those pretty strongly at this time.”
Although the case is not yet closed, investigators say answers could be coming. They believe they have pinpointed the main suspect.
“We believe we know who killed him,” Cox said.
For two of Nichols’ sisters, Kincaid and Stratman, it is no longer about an arrest, it is about answers. All they want is for their brother to come home.
“What we really want is our brother, one way or the other, is what we really want,” Kincaid said.
The person Nichols went hunting with has been questioned and detectives said he has not cooperated with the investigation.
There is a Facebook page dedicated to the case that was started by family members called “Ed Nichols Unsolved Cold Case.”
A true crime podcast called “Just the Tip-Sters” has featured Nichols’ case on a recent episode.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click here to report it. Please include title of story.