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"He was very strange," said Wyskida. "I never really saw him that much. And when we did, he would just be out staring without saying hello or anything."
Wyskida called Nichols unemotional.
"Sometimes you would see him in the backyard just staring at the open space with no one there. Just very weird," Wyskida said. "He would just sit in the car and read the newspaper and just hang out in the car."
Wyskida said he once saw Nichols driving down the road with a mannequin in the passenger seat.
"A dummy with a hat on," he said.
Barbara Wiest, a neighbor, called JoAnn Nichols, "a lovely, gentle woman.
"We thought she joined a convent," she said. "She was extremely religious."
The discovery of JoAnn Nichols' remains has reinvigorated the investigation, made more difficult by a trail long grown cold.
"Obviously, the evidence is very, very old," Detectives Capt. Paul Lecomte told The Associated Press. "Where we might have gotten a better opportunity ... to pull fingerprints or something from it. Where here, we might not be able to. It's so old."
He would not discuss details of the investigation or what evidence had been sent to the police lab, but Lecomte said detectives want to do a fresh round of interviews. Lecomte noted most of the officers who worked on the case in 1985 have since retired or died.
Mittelstaedt, the retired detective, never let the case go.
"I remember the case like it happened yesterday because every time I drove past her house, I wondered if she was in there," he said.
"It's just a sin that he got away with it all these years," he said. "I probably shouldn't say this because it's not politically correct, but I hope he rots in hell."