BERKELEY Co., S.C. (WCBD) – Nicole Goodlett went missing from her home in Spartanburg County back in March 2014.
Jerald Howard was a person of interest in the case, but he said he was innocent. Four years later, Howard is being charged with murder and Goodlett’s family is speaking out.
“It was big news to hear. It’s still overwhelming because of the fact that we’ve been suffering with this for over four years. We are one step closer to justice for Nicole, but immediately I just had to stop and reflect on what I’d just heard,” said James Goodlett, Nicole’s father.
That was his reaction to the news that his daughter’s former boyfriend and father of his twin granddaughters was arrested and is charged with Nicole’s murder.
At the time of Nicole’s disappearance in March of 2014, she was in a relationship with Howard.
Howard previously spoke to our sister station WSPA and claimed his innocence. However, Nicole’s family didn’t believe him.
“Initially when he was making statements to the press about his innocence, no, at that point we had no confidence in what he was saying. I didn’t believe what he was saying at that point,” Goodlett said.
Howard maintained his innocence for years, but records worked against him, especially cell phone records. Some showed he searched questions like ‘Can police identify a burned body?’
Just over half of Goodlett’s remains were located behind Cainhoy Elementary School. Her skull showed no signs of trauma, but her cause of death remains a mystery. Her father says how Nicole died makes no difference because death is death.
“How she died would add more suffering and pain because the discovery was very gruesome. It was horrible that a human being would do something like that to take another … the mother of his children,” Goodlett said.
Those children, the 4-year-old twins and Goodlett’s 9-year-old son are now being raised by her parents. James says they see Nicole in them all the time.
“We like to see Nicole in them. We like to keep that memory what they know in their minds. As the girls get older they’ll find out more. But the most important thing I want them to know is we did everything that we could from day one. I hope that brings some kind of comfort that we didn’t abandon her,” Goodlett said.
Howard appeared in bond court on March 27th, but as this is a murder charge, no bond was set and he remains behind bars.
Howard will appear in circuit court soon.