Police looking for person of interest in Nichols murder
Red Bluff police have established a tip line for the Marysa Nichols investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call 737-3160 or 737-3225.
Police are seeking a "person of interest" in the murder investigation of Marysa Nichols, the 14-year-old girls whose body was found in a creek on Thursday.
A video was taken by a Red Bluff High School video surveillance camera on the day Nichols disappeared while apparently walking home from school on Tuesday, which shows a man walking eastbound on Douglass Street and then turning southbound into the parking lot of Red Bluff High School.
The time on the video is 11 a.m.
Nichols is seen on the video also walking eastbound on Douglass Street and then turning southbound into the high school's parking lot about one and a half minutes after the unidentified man, said Red Bluff police Chief Paul Nanfito.
Nanfito said a witness described the "person of interest" as a white male adult, possibly in his 30s, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, stocky build, with a natural red goatee that is short to medium in length, wearing red shorts which are possibly cut-off sweatpants, and a tattoo on his lower left ankle, colorful but of an unknown design.
The tattoo is not visable on the video released by the police as the man appears to be wearing white socks.
"We are seeking the assistance of the public in identifying this person of interest and in determining his whereabouts," Nanfito said.
Nichols was reported missing by her mother, Diane Whitmire, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Whitmire dropped Nichols off at Red Bluff High School's Education Outreach Academy at 9:50 a.m. on Tuesday.
She told her mother she would be home from school around 2:30 p.m. She regularly walked home from school along the path seen in the video and through the creek where her body was located on Thursday.
Nanfito said Nichols went to her first class around 10 a.m., which lasted for 45 minutes, but did not show up for her 1 p.m. class.
When Whitmire got home from work around 4 p.m., her daughter was not at home.
Nanfito said at 1 a.m. Wednesday, police officers and detectives searched the creek area near Red Bluff High because it was an area that she crossed when walking home from school.
"Officers and detectives worked on this investigation until approximately 3 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 27," he said.
Police searched the creek area again at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
"Neither of these searches produced any leads or information regarding the disappearance of Marysa Nichols," Nanfito said.
A search was conducted in the creek near the school again late Wednesday night.
On Thursday, police used dogs to help search the creek area, which is partially covered in heavy vegetation, and investigators went up with California Highway Patrol Air Operations as well.
The Tehama County Interagency SWAT team joined the search efforts.
"It was two members of the SWAT team that located a deceased female in the creek area," Nanfito said.
A short time later, Nichols' family, including her mother, stepfather, and father located in Fresno, were notified that the body found in the creek was their missing daughter.
The Child Abduction Response Team has been requested to assist in the investigation, as well as the California Department of Justice Forensic Crime Scene investigators to process the crime scene.
"In addition to the Red Bluff Police Department we have approximately 60 personnel assisting from other agencies and departments working on this case," Nanfito said.