Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nellie Flickinger: more media coverage

Since the Yuma Sun article I posted a little while ago, a few more places have printed Nellie's story: the Erie Times-News (http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080125/NEWS02/801250363/-1/NE\ and http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/NEWS02/802190370/0/NEWS), the Sacramento Bee(http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/705149.html), the Appeal-Democrat (http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/flickinger_59525___article.html/woman_colusa.html) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08056/860167-85.stm).

Because the Post-Gazette story is the most recent (just from yesterday!), I will post it below.
Family of Erie woman missing for 29 years prays for closure
Monday, February 25, 2008
By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Michael Nelson
remembers the day when his mother walked out of his life and into a distressing
mystery now decades old.
On that day 29 years ago next month, Nellie Florence
Cornman Flickinger said she had to leave her Erie home for California to get her
troubled life together. The 30-year-old Apollo native promised her mother she'd
be back for Mr. Nelson, then 9, and her four other children ranging in age from
6 to 12.
Nellie Flickinger
And then she was off with the thin man with the
thin mustache whose name no one knew. She never was heard from again.
happened to her? Why didn't she ever come back?
"It's always in my head, I'm
always thinking about it," said Mr. Nelson, 38, who with his siblings suffered
an unhappy childhood of being shuffled from his maternal grandmother to foster
homes to an adoptive family. "I have depression and anxiety and just a mountain
full of emotions I don't know what to do with.
"I think about it every day. I
need to know."
Mr. Nelson, of Union City, Erie County, may find out a
horrible truth about his mother's fate if DNA from his uncle and youngest sister
is matched to that of a female skeleton discovered in California in 1982. But
after a lifetime of waiting, Mr. Nelson will have to wait some more -- the
process could take up to a year because the old case is not a priority for the
California state crime laboratory.
Ms. Flickinger's family is of two minds
about the additional wait they must endure.
"She's been gone for nearly 30
years, so what's another year at this point?" said Ms. Flickinger's niece, Joni
Lapeyrouse, 35, of Pensacola, Fla. "On the other hand, we're so close we want it
to be over."
Ms. Lapeyrouse is the reason the family has gotten this close to
unraveling the enigma. Over the years, the family had tried to find out what
happened to Ms. Flickinger but never got far. At the urging of one of Ms.
Flickinger's daughters, Ms. Lapeyrouse took up the challenge again.
the summer, she contacted the Doe Network, an Internet-based volunteer
clearinghouse of missing persons and unidentified bodies. The next day, the Doe
Network reported a possible match with the female skeletal remains a farm
laborer discovered in a drainage ditch along an interstate exit ramp in Colusa
County, Calif., northwest of Sacramento.
The remains offered Colusa County
authorities no clues to the woman's identity or how she died, although foul play
is suspected. She became a "Jane Doe" and was buried in a local cemetery,
forgotten for years -- until Ms. Flickinger's personal data was entered on the
Doe Network.
The hair color, height and age all seemed to match that of Ms.
Flickinger. And, most importantly, the remains had a metal plate screwed into
bones of the right leg. Ms. Flickinger likewise had a plate and screws holding
together her right leg, the result of a motorcycle accident in the
"I'm hoping that it isn't her," Mr. Nelson said. "I just hope through
all this that maybe there's enough publicity out there if it's not her and if
she is alive maybe she'll see what has been written in papers and realize she
has a family who still loves her.
"But if it is her, I need to see her. I
need to be there for her. I want to talk to her, to tell her that I love her and
I don't blame her for nothing. And if this is foul play, then I go on from
there, to get it investigated and try to bring some type of closure for
Ms. Lapeyrouse's hope is that her aunt is still alive, but her "gut"
tells her the remains are those of Ms. Flickinger, her father's
"We're looking for finality, something along that line. I think the
one way I would put it is we're bracing for closure but still hoping for a
reunion," she said.
Mr. Nelson said he holds no bitterness about his mother
leaving because she had a difficult life, including marriage to his physically
abusive father.
"She was scared. He ended up going to jail, and she saw this
as her chance to get away before she was killed by him," he said.
understand [why she left]. I always just figured that after she realized we were
of age and accountability that maybe she would come around knowing he was not a
part of our lives any more, that she would come to see us and be safe.
blame her, I do not, not one bit."
Michael A. Fuoco can be reached at mfuoco@post-gazette.com or

There is also a message board thread on Nellie at http://forums.pcolamoms.com/viewtopic.php?t=863&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0.

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