(CBS/AP) LIMA, Ohio - The skeletal remains of a 14-year-old Ohio runaway missing since 1999 have been found while the home where she was last seen was being demolished.
Lima police said Saturday the remains of Nicholle Coppler were found in a crawl space as the home's foundation was being dug out. Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin announced the remains found earlier this month at the Lima home were identified as the missing teenager. Coppler was 14 when she disappeared in 1999. She was last seen at the home of Glen Fryer.
Allen County Coroner Gary Beasley said the bones were identified through dental records.
Glen Fryer, who was a suspect in Coppler's disappearance over a decade ago, owned the home. The Lima News reports he was 55 when he killed himself in 2002 while awaiting sentencing for raping a girl.
The home was demolished after the state took possession after taxes went unpaid. Coppler's remains were the only ones found in the property.
"I knew in my heart it was Nicholle," said Krista Coppler, Nicholle's mother, who now lives in Florida. "I knew in my heart she never left that house."
Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said the discovery means the homicide investigation is reopened. Police said Fryer had a link to human trafficking.
"Our goal is the same: Try and get to the truth," Martin said. "Where exactly that will lead us I cannot say."
Lt. Jim Baker said detectives think Fryer was involved in the death but that there were other people involved. Police said others knew the girl was in the house and at least two others lived with Fryer.
There have been no arrests connected to Nicholle's disappearance, although police have talked to 179 people who may have had information, police said.
"I feel the trafficking, what has been exposed on the trafficking, if that all can be dismantled or girls can be saved, I think it also will be attributed to Nicholle," Nicholle's grandmother Diana Coppler said.
Meanwhile, Krista Coppler said she doesn't feel her daughter's investigation was handled properly in 1999, but police have since changed policy on runaways.
"If, in Nicholle's name, she can save some other girls, some good can come out of this," she said.