Sister of missing girl linked to Macomb Township dig visits site as authorities search for bodies

Search for cold case clues enters fourth day

MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The sister of a missing teen girl whose body may be buried in a Macomb Township field visited the site Thursday as authorities continued to dig.

MORE: Here's everything we know about Macomb Township cold case dig

Crews have been digging in a wooded area near 23 Mile Road and North Avenue for four days in attempt to solve cold cases that are decades old.

Brenda Handloser's sister, Nadine O'Dell, vanished when she was 16 in 1974. The teen from Inkster was on her way to Taylor to babysit, but she never arrived.

This is an age progression photo of Nadine O'Dell, who has been missing since Aug. 16, 1974. She was 16 when she went missing.
This is an age progression photo of Nadine O'Dell, who has been missing since Aug. 16, 1974. She was 16 when she went missing.

Brenda Handloser and her husband, Chris, have been looking for O'Dell for years.

"We've looked and looked and looked and put out a lot of information," Chris Handloser said.

After years of searching for her missing sister, Brenda Handloser believes her sister's body is where crews are digging.

"I know this is the final chapter. I know she's she's here," she said.

The Handlosers drove two hours to the site that authorities believe may be a gravesite for girls who disappeared.

"I just want to go past that yellow tape," Brenda Handloser said. "I just want to be as close as I can be to her... They're not going to look like a family member's going to look."

Police look for remains of missing girls

Police are searching for the remains of as many as six girls. The search is in the same area where the remains of Cindy Zarzycki were found after her killer led investigators to the spot. Arthur Ream killed Zarzycki when she was 13 years old in 1986.

Arthur Nelson Ream in 2017 (Michigan Department of Corrections)
Arthur Nelson Ream in 2017 (Michigan Department of Corrections)

RELATED: Arthur Ream bragged to inmates about killing 4-6 girls, failed polygraph

These are the cold cases that may be connected to Ream:

  • The case of 12-year-old Kimberly King, from Warren, who disappeared in 1979
  • The disappearance of Kellie Brownlee, from Novi, when she was 17 in 1982
  • The case of Kim Larrow, who disappeared from Canton Township in 1981, when she was 15
  • The case of Nadine O'Dell, from Inkster, when she was 16 in 1974
  • The disappearance of Cynthia Coon, from Washtenaw County, when she was 13 in 1970

Police sources told Local 4 they are positive Ream is responsible for other crimes, but they aren't certain he's responsible for the disappearances of these girls. 

The case of Nadine O'Dell

Brenda Lee Handloser was only 9 when her older sister Nadine disappeared.  

More than 40 years later, she remains committed to seeing her sister's case solved. 

"I know there is somebody out there that knows, you hear it all the time, you know, somebody has seen something and  I know somebody had to see something; it was during the day," Handloser said.

According to NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, Nadine Jean O'Dell was last seen on Aug. 16, 1974. The time was shortly before 9:30 a.m. and she was walking down John Daly Road toward Michigan Avenue in Inkster.

Nadine O'Dell
Nadine O'Dell

O'Dell was 16 years old at the time and was heading to Taylor to babysit her boyfriend's younger siblings. Handloser said Nadine's boyfriend would meet her at the halfway point.

"She didn't make it to that point," Handloser said. "He came to the house and he was like, 'Where's Nadine?' She wasn't there and that is how it all started." 

Handloser said Nadine was the second-oldest child in her family.

"I just remember her as a very quiet person. She played with us and she babysat a lot," Handloser said.

If she is still alive, O'Dell would be about 59 years old.  

Read more here.

About the Authors: