Details of Disappearance
Nikole's mother, Susan Klingel, was killed in a car accident in September 1977. Nikole and her father, Jarrett Betterson, were also in the accident but were not seriously injured. Jarrett and Klingel never married and shortly after her death he began dating another woman.
Klingel's parents last saw Nikole at around Christmastime in 1977. Jarrett announced that he and his new girlfriend, Barbara, were moving West. There were conflicting accounts as to whether their intended destination was California or Las Vegas, Nevada. The Klingels never heard from any of them again.
In 1997, the Klingels hired a private investigator to locate Nikole. The investigator found Jarrett and Barbara, who were now married, living in poverty and poor health in Las Vegas, but there was no trace of Nikole and no paper trail for her whatsoever, except her Social Security orphan's benefits, which her father picked up every month until Nikole turned 18.
The private investigator contacted the Las Vegas police department, which opened an investigation, checking school, court, police, licensure and adoption records. Their investigation turned up no evidence that Nikole was alive after she left Michigan.
In November 1997, a Las Vegas police detective visited Jarrett. He lied, claiming he knew what happened to Nikole, and promised them leniency if Jarrett told the whole story. Jarrett promised to contact the detective within a short time and confess what happened to his daughter. Ten days later, he called the detective and asked for more time. Jarrett never contacted the police again. He shot his wife to death and then himself.
Before her death, Barbara mailed a letter to Nikole's grandmother asking for forgiveness "all the wounds we have put in your hearts with our tragic and youthful blunders." She included a money order for $900 to pay for her and Jarrett's cremations.
Jarrett and Barbara's deaths have stalled the investigation into Nikole's disappearance, as without their involvement authorities have no evidence that a crime was even committed. Foul play is suspected in Nikole's case; it remains unsolved.