Details of Disappearance
Arianna's mother, 32-year-old Nicole Fitts, disappeared from San Francisco, California on April 1, 2016. She was last seen after her shift at Best Buy on Harrison Street that day.
Later in the day, she exchanged text messages with relatives, saying she was going to Fresno, California with a friend named "Sam." Her family was puzzled by this, as Nicole didn't know anyone named Sam and she didn't have a car.
In the early morning hours of April 2, there was a post to Nicole's Facebook reading, "Spending time with my 3 year old need this brake." Her family doesn't think she actually wrote it; Arianna was two, not three, and Nicole wrote with good grammar and spelling.
Nicole has never been heard from again. Her family reported her missing on April 5; they said they couldn't find Arianna either.
On April 8, Nicole's body was found in a shallow grave in McLaren Park, covered by a piece of plywood with a symbol spray-painted on it. Photos of Nicole and the plywood are posted with this case summary. After Nicole was found murdered, police announced they thought Arianna was at risk.
Nicole, a single mother, was struggling financially prior to her death. She spent a period living in a homeless shelter and had sent her older daughter to live with the child's father in Southern California. While in the shelter, Nicole met a "street pastor" named Lemasani Briggs, who invited her and Arianna to live with her. Nicole paid Briggs money for rent and for babysitting Arianna, but after a few months she switched babysitters to Siolo Hearne, Briggs's niece.
According to Nicole's sister, Briggs was abusive to Nicole, never gave her a key to their shared residence, read her private diary and sent her text messages calling her names. Nicole's sister and a friend helped Nicole and Arianna escape the situation, picking them up from Briggs's house in November 2015 and taking her to their home in Santa Cruz, California.
After Nicole moved to Santa Cruz, commuted two hours each way to her job at Best Buy. She worked long hours and stayed with various friends. She often left Arianna with Siolo Hearne and Helena Martin, Briggs's nieces, as well as Helena's husband, Devin Martin. The Martins lived on Castro Street in Oakland, California.
A coworker offered Nicole and Arianna a place to stay, but Arianna's babysitters did not want to let her go and wouldn't even let Nicole see her. No one in Arianna's family had seen her since sometime in mid-February 2016, about six weeks before her mother's murder.
According to Nicole's roommate, Nicole planned to try to retrieve her daughter on the day she disappeared. Nicole was reportedly very upset because she hadn't been able to see her, and her roommate urged her to seek help from the police to get her back.
Police stated Hearne and the Martins were refusing to cooperate with the investigation and had provided inconsistent statements, and it's worth noting that Helena previously served a six-year prison term for killing the father of her child. They haven't been named as suspects in Nicole's homicide or Arianna's disappearance, however.
Arianna's family hopes she is still alive and being cared for. Prior to Nicole's death, she and Arianna frequented the San Francisco, San Mateo, Oakland, Emeryville, Fresno, Santa Cruz and the Silicon Valley areas of the state; investigators believe Arianna could be anywhere in California. Her case remains unsolved.