Nicholle Coppler was only 14 years-old when she vanished in Lima, Ohio on May 19th, 1999. She reportedly left her home on her own accord, but her family was concerned for her safety--especially when it was later revealed that Nicholle had been spending time with an older man named Glen Fryer. Fryer had a criminal history and had previously been in trouble for sexually assaulting a young girl.
Three years after Nicholle's disappearance, in 2002, Fryer was charged with raping a 12 year-old girl. Authorities searched Fryer's home, and they found both Nicholle's ID card and her diary among the possessions in the house. Nicholle's diary had an entry that was dated May 24th, 1999--five days after her disappearance--that stated she had run away and wanted to return home, but the people she was staying with would not allow her to leave. From that point forward, Fryer became the prime suspect in Nicholle's disappearance. Investigators eventually produced the theory that Fryer might have tried to force Nicholle into prostitution, but ended up killing her when she resisted. Unfortunately, prosecutors never had the chance to charge Fryer with anything related to Nicholle's disappearance. Four days after pleading no contest for the 2002 rape case, Fryer hung himself inside his jail cell. Investigators still searched Fryer's home again, but they did not find anything.
Finally, in 2012, the city of Lima obtained control of Fryer's house after its taxes went unpaid. The house had been abandoned for years and was in very poor shape by this point. As a result, the city declared that the house was a safety hazard and planned to tear it down. A demolition team tore the house down in February 2012. As they began to dig up the house's foundation, the demolition team found human bones. A coroner later confirmed that the bones belonged to Nicholle Coppler.
After this gruesome discovery, it was clear that the investigator's theory stating Nicholle had been killed by Fryer was likely correct. However, there were two other men living in Fryer's house around the time of Nicholle's disappearance and investigators are reportedly hoping to locate these men to question them about Nicholle's death.
Nicholle's case is tied to a much larger issue of human trafficking, and how runaway teens are at high risk. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an estimated 1 out of 7 runaway teens are likely to be victims of sex trafficking. If you or someone you know is involved in sex trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 — or Text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733).