Sunday, October 8, 2006

Nicole Bryner: New search

Article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Dog aids in search for girl's remains

By Jill King Greenwood
Thursday, October 5, 2006
A cadaver dog and his handler walked
heavily wooded, rough terrain Wednesday afternoon in a search for the remains of
Nicole Lynn Bryner, who was reported missing from a South Side supermarket in
1982 at age 3.
City homicide detectives and the Allegheny County medical
examiner's K-9, named "Saber," will return today to the two Brookline locations
that were brought to investigators' attention this week through new information and tips.
Timothy Widman, 51, of Norwich Avenue in Brookline, was arrested
Sept. 26 and charged with homicide in connection with the March 11, 1982,
slaying of Nicole.
Widman lived with Nicole's mother, Melody Thomas, when
the child was reported missing from a Giant Eagle supermarket on the South Side.
He confessed to Nicole's death in June 1986 and was charged with involuntary
manslaughter. Thomas, then living in Texas, was charged with giving false
information to police and hindering apprehension.
Prosecutors dropped the
manslaughter charges a year later because they could not find the child's
remains. At the time, case law dictated that a body was needed to prove
A change in that law and new information from witnesses broke the
case open last week, police said. Widman told investigators he smacked the child
to the floor after she bit his foot while he was napping on the couch. He and
Thomas put the girl to bed and awoke the next day to find her dead, police said.
The couple buried the girl's naked body in a wooded area in Brookline,
Widman told investigators. Thomas then reported her missing from the supermarket
the next day. When Widman was arrested in 1986, he led police to a wooded area
off Dunsten Avenue in Brookline where he said the child was buried. The area was
searched extensively, but nothing was found.
Police plan to search that area
The first site searched yesterday is about 200 yards from the one
Widman led investigators to 20 years ago and the other is about two miles away
next to an abandoned strip mine off Whited Street. The second location was
searched because a family whose back yard abuts the woods there told
investigators they heard someone digging there the night before Nicole was
reported missing.
They were suspicious of the digging noises after they
learned the child disappeared but didn't come forward with the information.
Widman faces a preliminary hearing next Thursday in Pittsburgh Municipal
Court and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bond. Thomas died
in Texas in 2001.
Jill King Greenwood can be reached at or 412-321-2160.

Photo from The Charley Project (

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