Calif. Toddler Went Missing and Mom Was Found in Shallow Grave — as Police Offer $100,000 Reward

Arianna Fitts has been missing since 2016

Ariana Fitts age progression
Photo: San Francisco Police Department

On April 5, 2016, Nicole Fitts, a hard-working single mom from California, was reported missing along with her 2-year-old daughter.

Three days later, the 32-year-old’s body was found in San Francisco’s McLaren Park in a shallow grave covered with a piece of plywood with a strange symbol painted on it.

Arianna was nowhere to be found. She remains missing to this day.

On Friday, the San Francisco Police Department announced a $100,000 reward for “information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Nicole and the disappearance of Arianna.”

Accompanying the announcement is an age progression sketch of what Arianna might look like today, at age 6.

The missing child’s family hopes someone will come forward with information to help locate her — and help solve Fitts’ murder.

“It’s devastating,” Fitts’ sister, Contessa Fitts told PEOPLE in 2018 about the disappearance of her niece and the murder of her sister.

Fitts was last seen on the night of April 1, 2016, say police.

On that fateful night, Fitts received a phone call at approximately 9 p.m. that “lured Nicole out of her residence to ‘go meet the baby sitter,'” the SFPD says in the Crime Bulletin it released about the case.

“Nicole was never seen alive again,” it says.

Nicole and Ariana Fitts missing
San Francisco Police Department

Arianna was last seen in February 2016 in the care of her babysitters, Helena Hearne Martin and her husband, Devin Martin, the SFPD says in its statement about the reward.

The Martins, who lived in Oakland, and Helen’s sister, Siolo Hearne, of Emeryville, cared for Arianna for extended periods of time while Fitts worked, police said at the time, NBC Bay Area reports.

Just before Fitts vanished, she reportedly told Helen Martin that she wouldn’t need her to care for the child any longer, The Mercury News reports.

At the time of her disappearance, Fitts was allegedly met with resistance when she tried to see her daughter, NBC Bay Area, SF Weekly and SFist report.

Helena Martin was questioned several times by police.

Her attorney, Darryl Stallworth, told NBC Bay Area in 2017 that “she’s given them all the information she can.

“Now that they changed from her being a witness to a possible suspect, I’m not going to let her give any more statements.”

No one has been arrested and charged in the case.

Faces of the missing: Arianna Fitts

When reached Monday by PEOPLE, Stallworth said, “I appreciate the investigation and the family wanting to do everything they can to find that beautiful young child. My client has and continues to communicate that she had nothing to do with Arianna’s disappearance. There wasn’t enough information developed by law enforcement to change that position.”

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Police did not say why they are offering the reward at this time.

In its statement, the SFPD only said that its Homicide Detail and the FBI had been “working diligently on investigating the homicide of Nicole Fitts and locating Arianna Fitts.”

The SFPD isn’t alone in offering a reward for information about the case.

In May 2016, Best Buy, Fitts’ employer at the time of her disappearance, announced a $10,000 reward for direct information assisting in locating Arianna or indirect information based on her mother’s murder.

Anyone with information on Arianna’s whereabouts or the homicide of Nicole is encouraged to call the SFPD 24 Hour Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444, or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Callers may remain anonymous.

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