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Police say no remains found after excavating yard in relation to Kristi Nikle case

On Tuesday, investigators conducted an excavation in the 1000 block of First Ave. N. after receiving information that the body of Nikle may have been buried near the foundation of the residence when it was constructed.

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Police dig in the backyard of 1020 10th Street North in Grand Forks.
Matt Henson / WDAY News
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GRAND FORKS – Police announced on Wednesday that an excavation at a downtown Grand Forks residence on Tuesday was related to a 1996 missing person report involving Kristi Nikle . Investigators did not discover any remains in the yard.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, investigators conducted an excavation in the 1000 block of First Avenue North after receiving information that the body of Nikle may have been buried near the foundation of the residence when it was constructed. Two cadaver dogs from Valley Water rescue were deployed at the site and showed positive indicators of human remains, the news release said.

READ THE HERALD'S STORY ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF NIKLE'S DISAPPEARANCE
A retired Grand Forks detective said Kristi Nikle's case disturbs him because the 19-year-old developmentally disabled woman seemed to vanish into thin air.

Members of the Grand Forks Police Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office and Grand Forks Public Works conducted the excavation throughout the day. However, they did not discover any remains in or near the identified location.

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Police dig up yard of Grand Forks home on Tuesday, Aug. 9, as part of 'criminal' investigation. (Ingrid Harbo / Grand Forks Herald)

Investigators dug down to the footings on one corner of the house, said Grand Forks Police Lt. Jeremy Moe.

“We went down to where it appeared that the earth below was not disturbed,” said Moe.

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At this time, the department has no plans for further excavations at the property.

“At this point, we can do a review of the case again and consider any other alternative directions we can go with this,” said Moe. “We are always asking the public for any additional tips that we can follow up on and I think that’s what got this recent activity started.”

Moe said the site of Tuesday’s dig was under construction around the time of Nikle’s disappearance, and the house that sits on the lot at present was moved there in 1996. The department recently received the tip that Nikle’s body might be buried near the house from a community member who worked on the construction site, said Moe.

Nikle was 19 at the time of her disappearance. She had a developmental disability and her family said she had the mental abilities of a 10-year-old. The last time her family saw her, her father, Mike, told the Grand Forks Herald in 2021, she was planning to go to bingo with a friend.

In 1998, Grand Forks Police Detective Mike Sholes, who was lead investigator on the case until his retirement in 2009, received a tip asking if police had looked into Floyd Tapson as a possible subject. Tapson, originally from Hannah, North Dakota, near Devils Lake, had recently been sentenced to life in prison for aggravated assault and attempted murder of a 22-year-old developmentally disabled woman in Montana.

Tapson had a history of working in group homes that provided services to the developmentally disabled, including in Grand Forks. Tapson is also a person of interest in the disappearances or suspicious deaths of other women, including in Moorhead and Wadena.

Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Kristi Nikle, is encouraged to contact the Grand Forks Police Department by one of the following methods:

Call: 701-787-8000
Online: Submit a tip via the GFPD’s Facebook page or website
App: Submit a tip via the Tip411 app

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Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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