28 Years Later, Dead Wife Found in Hoarder's Home

JoAnn Nichols' murdered body was behind basement wall

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2013 12:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – With seven Dumpsters full of clutter in his backyard, neighbors in Poughkeepsie, NY, knew James Nichols had a hoarding problem—but they didn't know he was hoarding the body of his own murdered wife. The body of JoAnn Nichols, a first-grade teacher who was reported missing in December 1985, was found in a sealed plastic container behind a false basement wall by a contractor hired to clean out the home after Nichols' death at the age of 82, CNN reports.

The body had been tied up with rope and a post-mortem examination found that she had been killed by a blow to the head. After she disappeared, Nichols claimed she had left a typed note and called him briefly on Christmas Eve. Neighbors say Nichols was strange—he was once spotted with a dummy riding in the front seat of his car—and they always had their suspicions after his wife vanished. "Ultimately, we all said he did it," one former neighbor tells the Poughkeepsie Journal. "We automatically all said that, 'He did something with her.'"

JoAnn Nichols, a first-grade teacher, was reported missing in December 1985.   (Poughkeepsie Police Department)
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