Nicole Fitts: Family, friends to honor woman one year after her slaying

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Family and friends this week are observing the one-year anniversary of the murder of Nicole Fitts, a San Francisco woman whose body was found last year buried in a shallow grave in McLaren Park.

Police have still not found her killer or her missing daughter, Arianna, who would now be 3 years old.

The family is expected to attend a candlelight vigil Saturday at 7 p.m. to honor the mother and her daughter.

"There's definitely days of shock and awe that this is our situation," said Claire Bonnar, Nicole's sister-in-law and Arianna's aunt.

The body of April Nicole, a worker at San Francisco's Best Buy, was found on April 8, 2016 and police concluded that the woman had been murdered.

A pair of city workers discovered her body after it had been buried among a cluster of trees, just steps from a children's playground. Police said it had been covered by a piece of plywood that contained unusual markings on it.

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San Francisco police and FBI agents are now using promising new DNA technology to reprocess evidence found at the crime scene.

"In addition to that we've authored a bunch of search warrants in both California and in other states," police Commander Greg McEachern said. "We've towed a vehicle that we believe may be tied to the crime and we're making some unbelievable strides in the case."

Investigators have never revealed how Nicole was killed. Her daughter had been missing since February.

Nicole told friends that she had left her 2 1/2-year-old daughter in the care of babysitters, Siolo Hearne of Emeryville and Devon and Helena Martin of Oakland. And she claimed that the pair was refusing to let her see Arianna.

"My gut tells me that they did something to that girl's baby and Nicole found out and went ballistic, as any mother would do, and to silence her, they killed her," Cheryl Taylor told KTVU in April 2016.

Taylor's daughter, Goyette, had been roommates with Nicole at an apartment in the city's Bayview neighborhood.

The Martins declined to answer questions from KTVU last year about the incident and they refused to cooperate with police.

They hired a well-known attorney and have since moved out of town.

Said McEachern: "We're not going to stop until we solve this."

Bonnar thinks often about how Arianna would now be 3 years old if she has not been a victim of foul play.

"I want Arianna home. I want justice for Nicole," Bonnar said. "We come from a working class background and I appeal especially to people who work in service, to take a second look at [this] toddler and see if you recognize this little girl."

A $10,000 reward from Best Buy remains in effect for information about this case.

By KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty.

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