Above: Nicole Bryner in 1982 (left) and an age-progressed image to 26, circa 2005 (right)
Nicole Lynn Bryner
Last seen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 11, 1982
Vital statistics: White female. Born on February 20, 1979. Brown hair, brown eyes. Was three at the time.
Circumstances: According to her mother, Melody Childs-Thomas, she went missing from the Giant Eagle Supermarket at 23rd Street and Jane Street after she turned around for a second while browsing the meat counter. She looked back and her daughter was gone when she looked back. In 1986, Melodyís ex-boyfriend, Timothy Widman, claimed that he accidentally killed Nicole and that he and Melody buried her remains in a wooded lot along Timberland Road in Brookline. He claimed that Melody reported Nicole as missing to cover up the death. Widman was convicted of killing Nicole in 2007 and died in 2011. Classified as a Non-Family Abduction.
Theories: While it seems fairly likely that Widman and Melody were ultimately responsible for Nicoleís death, her case has been a wonder for the the thoughts. Itís still possible Nicole was taken by someone, perhaps someone who was concerned for her well-being. Some people reported that Nicole was abused by Widman and was once even locked in a closet apparently. Since no one could completely disprove the claim that she was at the supermarket, itís still a considered possibility in this case. One of the theories I have in this case is that Nicole was given to someone in exchange for drugs. Widman once said that Nicole was an obstacle and that he had to work so hard just to feed her. Itís a wonder if he gave Nicole to someone for drugs to get her out of the picture and maybe this person wanted a child for whatever reason. Maybe Widman confessed because there was no other way to prove he wasnít involved. There are so many reasons for false confessions. However, the confession itself does sound credible and Widman was willing to admit to killing Nicole again in May 2007 after he was charged with criminal homicide in her disappearance so why on earth would he falsely confess to something he was willing to admit to doing again? As for Melody, she passed away 19 years after Nicole went missing. There was also a possible sighting of Nicole in California in 1985. A man stated he recognized Nicole from the milk cartons and said she was at a shopping center in Bakersfield in the company of an unknown male individual. The man who had the child was driving a green 1979 Chrysler with license plates from in Texas. As far as Iím aware, this individual and the girl were never located. The person who reported the sighting as 100% sure it was Nicole. Iíve never believed Nicole was dead and I believe sheís alive and living somewhere in the western United States. With the sightings and confession in mind, the question remains, was Nicole abducted or was she killed in 1982?
If you have any information as to Nicole's whereabouts, please e-mail For The Lost at this address. Or you may contact the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police at 412-255-2888. Any tips sent by e-mail will be kept confidential.
Information used to compile this casefile came from the following resources:
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The Doe Network
The Charley Project
NamUs National Missing Persons Data System
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