Body Entombed in Hoarder's Basement ID'd
PHOTO: joann nichols, remains found, missing

A 28-year-old missing person case was eerily solved this week when a medical examiner positively identified the remains of a woman found entombed in a false basement wall of her hoarder husband's trash-filled home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The Dutchess County Coroner confirmed that the skeletal remains uncovered last week by a contractor cleaning out the home of James L. Nichols Jr. were those of his long-missing wife, JoAnn Nichols.

JoAnn Nichols, an elementary school teacher, who went missing on Dec. 21, 1985, was killed by a blunt force trauma to the head, according to a coroner's report.

The woman's skeleton was found in a container, concealed in a fake wall in the couple's basement.

With the finding and identifying of the body, the police reclassified the case, which had been considered an open missing person investigation, as a homicide. Her husband, James Nichols, is considered the primary suspect, police said, but he died last year at the age of 85.

Nichols reported his wife missing when she failed to show up for a beauty parlor appointment.

The coroner identified the remains by comparing dental records saved by the Poughkeepsie police, according to authorities.

Police described James Nichols as a hoarder, whose house was filled with debris.

"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," Patrick VanTine, a neighbor, told ABC's New York station WABC-TV.

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

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