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School district, police to search for body in cold case

The Nampa School District is teaming up with the Nampa Police Department and students from the Boise State University...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 8:31 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 8:31 AM

The Nampa School District is teaming up with the Nampa Police Department and students from the Boise State University Society of Exploration Geophysicists student chapter to try to solve a 54-year-old cold case of a missing Nampa woman.

In February, 1964, 51-year-old Lillian Richey disappeared from her home just blocks from where construction workers were laying the foundation of what would, years later, become the Nampa School District Office.

As we first reported last February, Richey had gone out for dinner and drinks with two men who were in town for a cattlemen's convention. One man brought her back home.

"He dropped her off at around 2 in the morning, then returned to his hotel in Boise," Nampa Police Department's Lt. Eric Skoglund told us.

The two men had previously arranged to meet Richey the following morning for breakfast. But when they arrived at her Nampa home, they found the garage door up and the house unlocked. They went inside, but later told police that Lillian was nowhere to be found. So they wrote her a note and left.

Hours later, Lillian's close friends reported her missing.

Following her disappearance, the Nampa Police Department spent years following leads, dredging a local irrigation ditch, and piecing together clues -- all to no avail.

Lillian's family went above and beyond, hiring private investigators, even a psychic to help in the search.

There were rumors Lillian was buried under the building that now houses the Nampa School District, but there were no solid leads there, either.

Lillian's son petitioned to have her declared dead in 1967.

A number of those close to Richey felt "... quite certain that something terrible had happened to her," said Dick Baker, a friend of the family.

Recently, investigators decided to take a closer look at years of tips and speculation tying Lillian Richey to the district office site.

Nampa Police detectives Angela Weekes and Erin Pon wondered if there might be new resources available to help them prove or disprove the information -- and they reached out to Boise State assistant professor of geophysics Dylan Mikesell for help. Geophysical techniques often are used in forensic investigations, and the investigators hoped Mikesell, the SEG chapter advisor, might be willing to help with this case.

"Dropping down into the crawlspace beneath the building, several Boise State students will use ground penetrating radar to look for anomalies in the soil underneath the concrete pad. Changes in soil stratigraphy could indicate a hole dug prior to the concrete being poured," said Nampa School District spokesperson Kathleen Tuck.

Nampa Police also will bring in cadaver dogs to try and locate a scent from the body. "A well-trained cadaver dog can sniff decomposition for decades after burial," Tuck stated.

Mikesell believes the ground-penetrating radar could produce some new evidence, although he noted that " ... 54 years of decomposition makes it harder to distinguish what was disturbed in the surrounding soil."

If something is found that could indicate a burial, the Nampa School District has agreed to cooperate with police on next steps.

"I wish there could be some sort of closure on this situation," said Baker. "Maybe someday, something will come to life. Maybe her remains may be found."

The search for Richey's remains is scheduled to be conducted in early March.

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