Meara Nichols had always admired her Aunt Clovis. Which is why when Meara disappeared from her Everett home in January, her family wasn’t entirely surprised.
You see, more than 30 years ago Aunt Clovis left her family behind and started a brand new life in New Orleans. She never looked back.
“Meara has always said she’d like to pattern her life after her aunt,” said Ric Hutchins, Meara’s father. “She has said that many, many times.”
It has been five weeks since anyone has seen or spoken to Meara Nichols. The 33-year-old left behind three children, a husband and a successful career with Nintendo.
Police say she closed out her bank account, then opened a new one with strict orders not to divulge her financial information. Her Facebook privacy settings were changed and her wallet was found discarded on the Interurban Trail, just blocks from her home and several bus lines.
“We don’t have any indication at all that foul play has occurred in this particular case,” said Everett Police Sergeant Robert Goetz. “To this point, we really don’t have any evidence that a crime has occurred.”
“They’ve told us she left on her own,” said Meara’s older sister, Carleen Heath. “That she doesn’t want to be found.”
But for Meara’s family, the thought that she would leave without as much as a goodbye is hard to accept. They’ve printed “Missing ” posters, and started a Facebook page called “Find Meara Nichols-Everett WA.”
Meara’s 12-year-old niece, Sierra Heath, has taken the ordeal particularly hard. She enjoyed playing the Nintendo games her aunt brought her from work, and misses the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup dinners the two would have together.
“I’ve been really hoping that she’d come home, because I miss her,” Sierra said in tears. “It’s just been really hard on us since she’s been gone. I just hope that she will at least call us to let us know that she is OK.”
Earlier this week, Meara’s family sat inside a living room in Everett to discuss what they believe happened to her. Some, like her mother and sister, theorize she left to collect her thoughts in the midst of a separation with her husband.
“I thought she just left to take her time out that she needed and I’d hear from her within the week,” Carleen said. “And now it’s been five weeks and nobody has heard from her.”
Others, however, believe something terrible may have happened to her, and that she would never leave for this long without getting in touch.
“I can’t imagine that she would leave her job without arranging something. She loved her job. She was proud of her job,” said Carleen’s boyfriend, Christopher Alameda. “What might have happened to her, it’s a topic of conversation every single day.”
As far as police are concerned, Meara Nichols’ case is an open and active missing person investigation. Sergeant Goetz said it will remain assigned to a detective unless Meara Nichols tells them otherwise.
“We hope that she is fine,” Goetz said. “We would encourage her, however, if she is in the area to get a hold of us in some way so we can close the case out.”
Meanwhile, her family hopes Meara will contact them as well.
“Email me, message me. Say, ‘I’m alive. I’m OK. I just need my space,'” Carleen asked of her sister. “If you don’t want to be found, that’s fine. Just let us know you are OK.”
And perhaps Meara Nichols is OK. Perhaps Meara Nichols doesn’t want to be found. Perhaps she is down in New Orleans, starting a new life just like her Aunt Clovis.
If you have information in the missing persons case of Meara Nichols, you are encouraged to call the Everett Police Department TIP LINE at 425-257-8450.