FBI assists in homicide, missing toddler case

The FBI is assisting the San Francisco police in the case of a murdered woman and missing toddler. 

The FBI met with police Tuesday, and are assisting where they can. 

Friends of a 32-year-old mother who was found dead are pointing the finger at a person of interest in a toddler's disappearance.

San Francisco police told KTVU they are exploring new leads in the disappearance of the little girl.

But they have still not named any suspects in the killing of her mother Nicole Fitts. However, they have interviewed some "people of interest"

The body of Nicole Fitts was found at McLaren Park Friday morning, April 8th. She was severely beaten. Her daughter, 2-year-old Arianna, is missing.

Some of Fitts coworkers at Best Buy described Fitts as hardworking, sweet, loving, and generous to a fault. "She bought me a sandwich when I had no lunch, even when she had so little," said one co-worker.

They said Fitts had problems in the past, but was very excited to have held her job for so long. She had lost custody of her daughter, 12-year-old Sendy, a while ago but was just months away from getting her back.

Friends teared up when talking about Fitts because they say she had such a great story and had really turned her life around. She was never into drugs or drinking, according to several people who knew her. She just seemed to have trouble supporting herself. Her mother died when she was only 15 and her father was never mentioned.

Fitts had been homeless at one stage. That's when she met Lemasani Briggs, a self-described "street pastor" and Evangelist from Daly City. Briggs is a person of interest in the case, according to San Francisco police.
"My thing is that I help people," said Briggs.

"We do bring people in our homes, we have. And Nicole and Arianna was one of them and she's like a daughter to me... and our house was more like a safe haven place like when Nicole would go out and people would kick her out and she would come back to us."

Friends and coworkers say Fitts complained that Briggs was too controlling and that she had to get away from her. Briggs admits that she could be tough on Fitts, but she says that's only because she loved her like a daughter. "I'm a nosy mom, I'm overbearing yeah, I'm controlling yes, I'm supposed to be… this is my home."

Fitts also told friends that the Briggs charged her rent and made her buy groceries for the household. Between that and money for childcare, there was little left over.

Fitts lived on and off in the Briggs' home for about two years until one night in late November, Briggs said she abruptly left with Arianna, and she hasn't seen her since. "I said where are you going? And she pretty much said ‘it's none of your business,’ you know?"

Fitts’ friends say Briggs’ niece or some relative of hers used to frequently babysit Arianna in Oakland. They say Fitts was growing increasingly frustrated because the babysitter refused to let her see her daughter in the weeks leading up to her death.
"They would tell her oh, we took her to Disneyland, we'll be back, you know, they just kept giving her the runaround, " Cheryl Taylor told KTVU. Briggs had been living with Cheryl at her home in the city's Bayview District recently.

Fitts hadn't seen her daughter since late February. Friends say Fitts was simply desperate. She worked nearly every day, commuting to Oakland, which was a challenge and she lacked the confidence to stand up for herself and for Arianna. Her nearest sister lives in Santa Cruz so she couldn't ask her for her help.
Fitts was supposed to pick up her daughter from the babysitter's March 18th. Again, she was told that she could not come get Arianna.

When she tried to exert herself, she was shut down.

Cheryl's daughter, Goyette told KTVU that Fitts stepped out of the house on Friday night, April 1st. The next morning, Goyette woke up and found a text from Fitts, time-stamped around 12:45 am. It said that Nicole was going to Fresno for a few days.

Goyette said that this would have been highly uncharacteristic of Fitts; she never "just took off." She believes Nicole's killer sent that text. Nicole never showed up to work that week and by that Friday, her body was found in the park, badly beaten.

Lemasani denies having any involvement with Fitts’ murder or Arianna's disappearance. "I just pray, we've been praying I've been having people praying all day, all night that that that baby would show up... baby Arianna, will show up because the enemy is going to let her go. And somebody is going to; the authorities are going to find out who's done this evil, wicked thing."

San Francisco police are expected to be releasing more details on the case.