Public Safety

Sheriff’s Department Joins Sister of Slain Teenager to Help Solve 51-Year-Old Murder

The San Diego Sheriff's Department is seeking the public's help to solve the cold case 1967 murder of Nikki Benedict.

Fourteen-year-old Nikki Benedict was heading home from a friend’s house on May 1, 1967, cutting through what was then just a field at Carriage and Poway Roads in Poway when someone stabbed her in broad daylight and left her to die.

The case remains unsolved despite an investigation at the time and review over the years. Benedict’s sister joined the Sheriff’s Department at a news conference 51 years after the murder to appeal to the public for new information.

Marianna Bascilla said not knowing who did this to Nikki and why “tore her family apart in a very silent way” and has been an ever-present grief. This led Bascilla, who was only five-years-old at the time of the murder and still lives in Poway, to ask the San Diego Sheriff’s Cold Crimes Unit to appeal to the public again.

“The world seems to expect that we get over this kind of loss at some point. Nope, we don’t and I wouldn’t want to. Nikki’s memory is a crucial part of who I am. She is woven into the fabric of my heart,” Bascilla said. “It’s not wrong to want to know what happened to Nikki even after all these years, to want to know who stole her future and changed ours forever, but I suspect that we will never get a chance to find out.”

Sheriff’s Homicide Sgt. Todd Norton said they have continued to investigate this case over the years as theories and potential information has come forward, but it has not led to a suspect yet. He said a member of the public may still hold information that can crack the case and bring the family closure.

Sheriff’s Detective Will Atenhof, the lead investigator on the case, said the crime happened in the northwest lot between 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. when the wounded girl was discovered by an 11-year-old boy riding his bike through the field. The boy immediately reported it to his father who owned a nearby market and Sheriff’s deputies and the fire department responded, but she died upon arrival to the hospital.

Her parents and two of five other siblings have died since the murder. Bascilla said she thinks about what life would have been like for her sister and the rest of her family if the crime hadn’t happened.  She spoke of her sister Nikki’s interest in mechanical engineering and imagines her father would have been proud of Nikki following in his footsteps. She imagines her sister as a mother to children of her own.

Bascilla said she wants to know why this happened but the concept of hope is difficult for her because it has led her down the path of heartbreak too often over the years.

“Our true goal is to resolve this case,” said Sheriff’s Detective Will Altenhof. “We’re hoping that someone out there has some information. Again, whether it be small or big, call us, call us, call Crime Stoppers and let us know. We’ll follow up on all the information that comes in.”

A $1,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest in this case. The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone who may know the identity or location of the person/persons responsible for the crime to call the Homicide Unit at (858) 974-2321 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477. To learn how to send an anonymous emails or leave an anonymous tip through a mobile tip app, visit

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact