Dateline | November 20, 2013
>> wrong right from the beginning?
>> yes. because nici wouldn't have gone away without calling and telling me.
>> if nici could have called somebody, she would have called gayle.
>> nicole 's mother and stepfather had reason to be worried. they, along with nici 's other family and friends, remembered another time years before when they had almost lost her. nici had been in her teens when she began suffering from abdominal problems, related to the onset of puberty. her medical issues left her in agonizing pain and also heavily medicated.
>> she had very painful cramps and was prescribed lots of medicine for them.
>> and by the time she was 21, she had had three surgeries. pain pills being thrown at her, right and left.
>> at some point, it seemed all those pills took away not only the pain, but the person. zombie mied.
>> how was she different?
>> just spacey, couldn't keep up with the conversation. i felt like i lost her. she wasn't really there.
>> before nici could crawl out of her hole, she would need to check into a local rehab center to treat her addiction.
>> when she finally got clean, i felt like i had my sister back.
>> that's when she started working at the bali gym office. her co-workers thought she was in terrific emotional shape.
>> the nici that i know wasn't in her dark days . the nici that i knew was on top of her game.
>> and yet friends like michelle ballasts new nici took her sobriety a day at a time and was terrified of making one slip and losing it all.
>> she would tell you she had a headache and trying to get the girl to take an advil. you would think you were trying to inject her with heroin.
>> nici 's weekly alcoholic's anonymous meetings were the rock and foundation of that daily conscience effort. and on saturday morning, january 28th , she was supposed to attend a very special meeting. a celebration to honor her for eight years of sobriety.
>> every year, it's your birthday. and it was her eighth birthday.
>> as being a clean and sober woman.
>> yes. she was so proud of it. we were so proud of her. everyone was proud of her.
>> honey, it's mom. i don't know where you are, darling.
>> but nici never showed up to that important meeting. never received her award. and now, friends and family desperately tried reaching her by phone.
>> hi, nici . this is rod calling. we don't know what's going on.
>> their pleas relegated to the silence of voice mail. the anxiety level wept o went off oh the chart.
>> no matter what happened, nici , even if it was a relapse, we want you to know that we love you.
>> had nici , in fact, fallen back into addiction?
>> i started hoping that. because then she would have been alive.
>> the alternative that nici may be dead somewhere was too much to bear. a bulletin went out. be on the lookout for a 5'3" woman with a tattoo on her back. friends knew she would likely be wearing a cross necklace and a diamond tennis bracelet . nine days later, king county detective, kathleen decker, was dispatched to an area near sea-tac airport, south of the city.
>> the call came in from my sergeant, requesting i respond to this location regarding a woman's body. she had been found by a passerby in the blackberry bushes.
>> this is kind of off the grid right here.
>> yes, it is.
>> a woman's body discovered in a nothing patch of scrub at the end of a runway near but an all but abandoned trailer park .
>> what did you notice about the body?
>> first thing i noticed was she was nude. the second thing i noticed, her arms were gently across her chest.
>> not just a body abandoned. jts correct. she had not been discarded like garbage, but had been placed into and under the vines.
>> the detective had a special set of skills she called on now. she had been trained in tracking, reading trails, disturbed vegetation, just like the scouts in the old west. the pattern of broken branches and tamped down leaves and soil oh told her that the body had lane out here about a week.
>> is there anything that suggested to you why this woman would have been abandoned here?
>> no. and that was part of the complexity of this investigation. we had all sorts of avenues that we needed to investigate. we had the transient population that may have been frequenting the trailer park . we had a mental health facility that was very close by, within walking distance.
>> but detective decker did have a strong hunch about who this victim was. the cross necklace, the tattoo. it all checked out as that local woman, nicole pietz, who had been missing for a week. the diamond tennis bracelet she walls wore was not on her wrist, but police were confident enough in their tentative i.d. to pay a visit to nicole 's husband, david. and the information david pietz would soon share with detectives about when his wife was last seen and what she left behind would be critical to the case.
>> but it was something that