The Justice Files: Who killed Niki Bakoles aka “Saltair Sally?”

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) –  For more than a decade, she was dubbed “Saltair Sally.”

Hunters found her remains near Saltair in 2000.  The body was too decomposed and authorities were not able to identify who she was.

At the same time, the family of Nikole “Niki” Bakoles reported her missing.  For the next 12 years, no one made the connection.

That’s when new DNA technology changed that.  In 2012, the remains were identified as those of Bakoles.  

Bakoles was from Washington state but came to Utah in 1997 to be with her boyfriend.  But her mother said she got mixed up with drugs and was addicted.  She returned to Washington and entered into rehab.  She was also pregnant.

Bakoles gave birth and returned to Utah to be with her boyfriend.  In 2000, she disappeared and was never hard from again.

In 2012, her family arrived in Utah to retrieve her remains and take her home for a proper burial.

“She had a daughter and was looking forward to raising her,” said her brother James Bakoles in 2012.  “She had a bright future.  With the answer of every question comes one hundred more questions.”

Her boyfriend was questioned but was not considered a suspect.  24 years after her murder there has been no arrest.  But a non-profit group is now looking into the case following a tip they received.

“An anonymous tipster called about a person of interest in one of our cases who said that “I killed the b—-,” said Jason Jensen with the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

Jensen is the co-founder of the Cold Case Coalition.  They currently have over 400 cold cases on their files.  But the Bakoles murder now has their full attention.  Jensen said they are publicly reaching out to this person in hopes of solving the case.

“We will do a number of things, help them get legal representation or help them get a letter of immunity or even help them get the $15,000 reward to help bring closure if it is an accident,” said Jensen.

But Jensen said the window of opportunity is for 30 days.  If this person of interest doesn’t contact them, they will turn over the information to the Unified Police Department’s cold case unit.

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