The cold case disappearance of Kristi Nikle - Grand Forks, North Dakota - October 3, 1996

Kristi Nikle

On October 3, 1996, it became apparent that 19-year-old Kristi Nikle was missing. The girl was last seen leaving an apartment in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Although she sometimes stayed away from home for a few nights, it was not like her not to let her parents know. According to her mother, she always let her know what she was going to do. Because she hadn't now, it was clear to her family that something must be wrong.

Kristi Lynn Nikle had a developmental disability and therefore had the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child. Despite this, according to her family, she was very capable and independent. She had many friends and often roamed the city alone. Again, she did let her family know what she was up to at all times.

The family reported the missing to the police, but they said they had to wait 72 hours.

Hoping to find her soon, the family launched their own search in the meantime. Since the girl had been at the bingo hall that day and had won $500 there, they drove over to see if she was still there. Other places were also checked, but the family could not find Kristi anywhere.

Police Investigation
Kristi's father officially reported his daughter missing on October 10, 1996. Although the police initially thought that the teenager had left of his own accord, it was soon suspected that foul play could be involved. Especially since Kristi was a very naive person, and someone who quickly trusted other people. It never occurred to her that someone might also harm her. And while she was socially adept, she would have easily been lured in by someone with bad intentions.

Police tried to establish a timeline of her day, and determined that on October 3, 1996, she had been hanging out with a friend at the local bingo hall. According to her family, she loved this game, and according to the police, Kristi would have won a cash prize of $ 500 that day. The trail ended there at the bingo hall. From that point on, it became unclear where she went, and with whom. 

In the weeks after the disappearance, the police received many reports from people who thought they had seen her. For example, one man said he had seen Kristi in a car with other people in Grand Forks. That was two days after she went missing. The witness said she approached her and said she was reported missing, to which Kristi said in a detached manner that she did not need any help. The police had a hypnotist question the witness again, hoping he could describe the people in the car. However, it led to nothing.

Meanwhile, the family tried to think of who might want to harm Kristi. Her father then recalled that his daughter had reported two neighbors to the police for drug dealing. He wondered if maybe people wanted revenge, but the police couldn't find any evidence for this scenario.

The situation became more and more hopeless as time passed. After two years there was still no trace of Kristi... The family believed that the police were not doing enough. Moreover, they were still frustrated that the police did not immediately want to report Kristi's missing.

Floyd Todd Tapson
Two years after the disappearance, in 1998, a tip suddenly came in in which someone on the phone advised to take a look at Floyd Tapson as a possible suspect. At the time, Tapson was serving a life sentence for the attempted murder of a 22-year-old Montana woman with a developmental disability. A witness claimed to have seen Floyd in a car with Kristi two days after the disappearance. And notable was the fact that Kristi had been bragging about a boyfriend named "Todd" lately...

Tapson, who moved a lot and always sought work in group homes for the disabled, was placed near Grand Forks at the time of the disappearance, according to police. He denied having anything to do with the disappearance of Kristi, and was willing to do a polygraph to prove his innocence. However, the results were not in his favor, it had not eliminated him as a suspect. His story, too, was inconsistent, and part of it later turned out to be untrue. Although he remained a suspect, police could find no evidence of his involvement in the disappearance.

Remains found
In 2004, the case came to the surface again when human remains were found in Montana along the highway by a public urinator. A forensic analysis suggested that the woman had a developmental disability, so Kristi immediately came to mind. However, DNA tests ruled out that it was her. The dead woman has never been identified as far as we know.

Excavation work
Years passed with the search for Kristi waiting for new information. That came in the summer of 2022, when there was evidence that Kristi was buried near the foundation of a house in the 1000 block of First Avenue North. Careful digging was done on August 9 for the possible body of Kristi... But in vain, despite the fact that cadaver dogs had responded positively to indications of human remains, nothing was found.

Information and Tips
Sadly, Kristi is still missing, and her family still has no answers to their many questions. The most important: Where is Kristi? Do you know anything about the girl's disappearance? Did you see her anywhere after October 3, 1996? We would like to know every detail. Please let us know now. Don't hesitate and come forward with your story. You can do that completely anonymously. Get in touch using the form below.

This goes without the interference of the police, and entirely through our editors. If you would like to remain anonymous, do not enter your name and e-mail address. We ensure that your information ends up in the right place with the appropriate cold case team. 

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