Gainesville, GA

18-Year-Old Found Dead After Vanishing from a Truck Stop Payphone

Elaine Nix.Gainesville Times

Jacqueline Elaine Nix was only 18-years-old when she went missing from Gainesville, Georgia. She had been talking to her boyfriend at a nearby payphone for over an hour. The payphone at Zack’s Food Rack on Candler Road was only a short drive from her home. After the call ended, she vanished.

Her car was found.

Her keys were found.

Her purse was found.

Elaine was missing.

It wasn’t unusual for Elaine to make the drive to this particular payphone. She often called her boyfriend, Billy Milwood, who lived with his family in Cleveland, Ohio. The call was long distance and very expensive, so Elaine’s mother had asked her to use the payphone instead. It only cost $.35 for her to talk to Billy as long as she wanted.

Billy said they talked about an upcoming camping trip and after an hour of chatting with each other, they said I love you and hung up. Nothing seemed amiss. Phone records confirmed his story.

Dressed in a white t-shirt, khaki pants, and white tennis shoes, Elaine had left her home around 11 p.m. on the 20th of September, 1999. She talked with her boyfriend until 12:10 am, then was never seen alive again.

Around 2 a.m. the next morning, the deputy discovered a 1985 Toyota Celica abandoned in the parking lot at Zack’s Food Rack. The window of the car had been left down and the car keys were still in the ignition. At this point, Elaine had not yet been reported missing, so the deputy continued on, leaving the car where it was.

Elaine’s parents were extremely worried that she had not yet returned home from her drive to the payphone, however, their daughter would occasionally stay overnight with a friend or family member so they tried not to panic. It was when Elaine didn’t show up for work the next day that they knew something was terribly wrong.

They quickly drove to the payphone at Zack’s Food Rack and immediately saw Elaine’s Toyota… Elaine was nowhere to be seen. The car had plenty of gas and the teen’s purse and a package of cigarettes were still laying on the front seat. It was unusual for her to go anywhere without these items.

However, the teen’s address was book was missing and has never been found.

Elaine’s parents then drove the car home and called the police department to file a missing persons report. Unfortunately, since their daughter was an adult at 18-years-old, they were told they needed to wait before they could report her missing.

In the meantime, they designed missing person fliers and hung them up all around Hall County. Friends and family gathered to form a search party and began looking around the area where Elaine’s car had been found.

Eventually, her family was allowed to file the report but felt that the authorities did not take their situation seriously. It appeared to them that police considered Elaine a runaway, therefore not a lot of effort was initially put forth into finding out where she was.

Friends and family continued to search for her over the next eight grueling days. They combed the local woods and ditches that lined the highway. There wasn’t any security footage that could lead investigators in any promising direction.

She would finally be found on the 29th of September when a man was mowing grass behind a Buford industrial park at 3131 Verona Ave in Buford, Georgia. The mower had noticed a strong, unpleasant order coming from the brush and followed it until he stumbled upon a body. Elaine was located in a tree line 17 miles away from the location of the payphone and across the county line.

She was not wearing any clothing and only her jewelry was left on her body. The weather had been hot over the eight days she had been missing which caused her body to decompose at an accelerated rate. Therefore it was difficult to determine a cause of death.

During her autopsy, the pathologist could tell that she had not been stabbed or shot. It is possible she was strangled and the state of her body had removed any evidence of strangulation. Her official cause of death has been listed as “undetermined.”

Zack’s Food Rack was located in easy access to Interstate 985. It was common for truckers to pull over at that location and spend some time resting there. Many believe Elaine became victim to an ill-intentioned trucker who had taken her when he saw the opportunity. Drugs were also prevalent in the area and Elaine may have seen something she shouldn’t have, then paid for it with her life.

Her clothing has never been found. Investigators are lacking any credible leads to go on and the case still remains unsolved to this day.

The payphone is no longer exists. Elaine’s family has since moved away from their Gainesville home. They hold on to the few pieces of jewelry that remained on their daughter’s body. Her family and friends gather together every year on the 29th of September at Elaine’s gravesite to bring awareness to her case. They refuse to give up on finding her killer.

If you have any information about the murder of Elaine Nix, please call the Gwinnett County Police tip line at 770–513–5390 or Hall County Investigators at 770–531–6879. There is a $5,000 reward being offered.

Someone must know something.

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