Old Time Crime: 1994 death of ASU pre-med student remains unsolved

Posted at 10:17 AM, Apr 09, 2017

An open unsolved case from April 1995 still vexes police, Arizona State University, and the victim's family.

It was April 12, 1995, when ranch hand Mike Gano was riding along a fence checking the cattle when he stumbled across a skull. He soon led police to the area where the remains of 24-year-old Kimberly Nilson were found.

This location was just two miles away from where investigators discovered her car shortly after she was reported missing by her roommate seven months prior.

Police on horseback searched the area with helicopters and dogs but couldn't find Nilson, until Gano found her remains seven months later.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner would soon verify the remains as being those of Nilson, an Arizona State University pre-med student. However, the medical examiner could not find a cause of death, labeling it as "suspicious."

”We love you Kimberly, please help find her.”

Nilson was reported missing on August 22, 1994, the same day she was to begin her final semester at ASU. Family, friends and fellow students scoured the valley passing out flyers, hoping for clues to find their missing friend and relative. They even took to the skies, as friends hired a plane to carry a banner across the valley which read, “We love you Kimberly, please help find her."

Her vehicle was found parked in the driveway of a home near Pima Road and Thompson Peak Parkway.  

Police said all her belongings and the car keys were found inside the car, and there were no signs of a struggle. 

Tempe police received over 300 tips from people who say they saw her or her car at various locations. However, none of the tips were able to help police locate any suspect(s) or answers.

Twenty-two years later the disappearance and suspicious death of Kimberly Nilson remains a mystery.