Who killed Nikki Benedict? New leads in Poway teen's unsolved mu - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8


Who killed Nikki Benedict? New leads in Poway teen's unsolved murder

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1968 Poway Chieftain newspaper article 1968 Poway Chieftain newspaper article
POWAY, Calif. (CBS 8) - There are new leads in the unsolved murder of a Poway teenager who was stabbed to death 47 years ago.

A long-time Poway resident came forward last month and gave new information to sheriff's homicide detectives.

The tipster did not want to be identified because the person who murdered 14-year-old Nikki Benedict in 1967 has never been caught.

The man, who we'll call 'Mark', remembers seeing a knife when he was just 8 years old. Even today, at the age of 54, he remembers exactly what it looked like.

"I remember the knife. It was in a plastic bag. It wasn't a very big knife," said Mark during an interview with CBS News 8.

"It had a wooden handle on it. It had those little tiny bumps on it," he said.

The knife made a lasting impression on Mark in 1968, when a sheriff's detective showed it to Mark and his mother at their home.

A Sept. 26, 1968 newspaper article published in the Poway Chieftain confirms that detectives were going door to door in 1968, showing the knife to residents hoping somebody would recognize it.

"I was kind of on my tiptoes to get a visual of the knife and he (the detective) actually lowered it so I could see it, and I said, ‘Mom, I know that knife,'" according to Mark.

The knife is believed to be the murder weapon in the May 1, 1967 stabbing death of Nikki Benedict.

"I told her straight out, ‘Mom, I know that knife.' She said, ‘Where do you know that knife from?' I said, ‘Bob Fisk Meat Market,'" said Mark.

The late Bob Fisk was a well-known butcher in Poway in the 1960s and ‘70s.

"Bob Fisk had identical knives, the whole collection of them. If I'm not mistaken, I think he even sold them in the store," said Mark. "I was in there so much as a kid. We were in there twice a week, three times a week."

Bob Fisk's 11-year-old son, Ronald Fisk, was the boy who reported finding Nikki Benedict wounded and bleeding – with two stab wounds to the heart – on a dirt trail near the intersection of Carriage Road and Poway Road.

Ronald Fisk died in a plane crash in 1988. Nikki's murder remains unsolved to this day.

"I have a daughter and I couldn't imagine living all these years not knowing who did it," said Mark. "I couldn't imagine anything harder in the world than burying a child or grandchild and not knowing who did it."

Last month, according to Mark, he was watching TV news coverage of a vigil in Poway for Nikki and that's when his memories of the knife, and more, came flashing back.

Mark said he also remembered a secret told to him by a classmate three years after Nikki's murder.

"When we were in 4th grade, I will never forget, we were playing under the jungle gym at Pomerado School. We were in there and he told me, ‘My brother killed a girl.' I said, 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah, my brother killed a girl,'" remembered Mark.

Mark claims the same classmate said it again, on another occasion, two years later. He said they were age 12 and the two friends had gotten into a schoolyard fight.

"We'd be out in the playground fighting. He was a tough kid. And he told me, 'My brother killed before and I'll kill you,'" Mark recalled.

CBS 8 is not naming the classmate in question, because the San Diego County Sheriff's Department is still in the process of investigating Mark's story.

Officially, no suspects have been named and exactly where the knife came from remains unknown.

Forty-seven years after Nikki Benedict's death, this latest revelation appears to be a promising lead. But the victim's family members have had their hopes raised in the past, only to see them dashed.

"Every time there's some new possibility, it's devastating," said Marianna Benedict, Nikki's sister.

She told us one suspect who detectives looked at early on was convicted murderer Jay Kenneth Miller.

In 1968, Miller confessed to raping two young girls, ages 9 and 13, in the East County; and murdering one of them.

At the time, detectives questioned Miller about Nikki Benedict's murder but he denied any involvement. An autopsy showed Nikki Benedict was not sexually assaulted.

Recently, Marianna has thought about contacting Miller at the California State Prison, Solano, where he remains incarcerated at the age of 71.

"I had originally wanted to go visit him," she said. "Then, I thought it would be a better idea just to write him."

CBS News 8 wrote a letter to Miller requesting an interview. He did not respond.

Detectives also looked at the possibility that Nikki Benedict was a victim of the Zodiac serial killer, who murdered several victims in the Bay Area during the late 1960s.

The Zodiac has never been identified but in a 1971 letter mailed to the LA Times, a man claiming to be the Zodiac killer described murdering a Riverside teenager in 1966. In the letter, he also wrote, "there are a hell of a lot more down there."

"When I heard it could be the Zodiac killer – that he was one of the possible suspects – we thought, ‘Oh finally something,'" said Marianna Benedict, Nikki's sister.

Cold case detective have recently re-interviewed Marianna about Nikki's death; giving Marianna hope, once again, that her sister's murder mystery may soon be solved.

"Both of my parents went to their graves with broken hearts," said Marianna. "It's very likely there are other people that have information and I hope they'll show mercy and come forward."

The Sheriff's Department declined to be interviewed for this report citing an ongoing investigation in the case.
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