It's been almost seven years since the body of a young mother was discovered in McLaren Park, and authorities still believe that her daughter, who was two years old at the time, is still alive and perhaps still somewhere in California.
The April 2016 death of 32-year-old Nicole Fitts was tragic and shocking at the time, but made all the more shocking because of the simultaneous disappearance of Fitts's toddler daughter Arianna. Suspicion regarding both the murder and the child's disappearance immediately fell on the girl's babysitter and her husband — with whom Fitts has allegedly been in some kind of conflict just before she was killed.
Police still never made an arrest, and despite there being a $250,000 reward out there for information about the girl's whereabouts, the case remains unsolved.
Arianna Fitts would now be nine years old, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has put out a new composite rending of what the girl might look like now, based on her photos as a two-year-old. No one has seen or heard from the girl in seven years, and she's likely living under a new name.
Fitts was a single mother and was working at the Best Buy on Harrison Street just before her death — in fact, she was allegedly wearing a blue Best Buy shirt on April 1 when she left work to go meet with the babysitter, who was later identified as Helena Martin. Helena and her husband, Devon Martin, lived on Castro Street in Oakland at the time. Arianna had been living with the Martins, sleeping there nightly, for about a month at the time of Fitts's death — an arrangement she made while she got back on her feet financially.
Police also questioned a friend of Fitts, Siolo Hearne, an Emeryville resident who drove for Uber and with whom Fitts sometimes left her daughter while she was at work, as KTVU reported at the time.
All three were said to have been initially uncooperative with the police investigation.
Fitts would be found dead a week after she went missing, on April 8, 2016, her body shallowly buried behind some bushes in McLaren Park and underneath a plywood board with some strange markings on it. Her family had reported both her and Arianna missing on April 5.
A friend of Fitts, with whom she'd been staying at the time, Cheryl Taylor, told KPIX at the time that she immediately suspected the Martins — and that was who Nicole was going to meet on April 1, before she disappeared.
"As far as I know, she was going to Oakland [on April 1], and I told her before she left, ‘baby whatever you do, get the police involved' because Nicole was really upset that night," Taylor told the station. "I said, ‘I’ve had a long day.’ I said, ‘I wish I could stay up and talk to you a little longer, but I am beat, and I’m going to bed,’ and that was the last time I saw Nicole."
While no arrests have been made, the SFPD and the FBI say they may be getting closer, and they still need new information.
"We don't consider this to be a cold case," says agent Katherine Zackel with the FBI in San Francisco. "This is a very active investigation. We're getting active leads, we're getting new information all the time."
Fitts's sister, Contessa Fitts, says in the video below that she will do "whatever it takes" to bring Arianna home and bring her sister's killer to justice.
If you have any information about the case, you should call the San Francisco Police at 415-575-4444 or NCMEC at 1-800-843-5678.