A year later, no answers in Lynnwood woman’s killing

Gael Schneider sometimes must push away what she treasures most.

With a mother’s heart, she cherishes each memory.

There were the summers on Lake Sammamish when her daughter, Nicole, would dive into the water wearing her beloved Wonder Woman swimsuit.

She remembers the warm kisses young Nicole planted on her cheek, telling her mother, “Now wasn’t that a delightful way to start the day.”

Schneider can still hear the excitement in Nicole’s voice when she announced was making broiled salmon and Rice-A-Roni for her husband’s dinner.

Yet remembering too much, or too often, tears at Schneider.

“There isn’t any peace, only distractions,” she said.

Schneider expects today will be bittersweet.

She and her husband have flown in from their home in Arizona to attend a memorial service for her daughter, Nicole Pietz.

Schneider will share memories of her daughter. She also will be reminded why some days she must hold those memories at arm’s length.

Pietz, 32, was reported missing from her Lynnwood home Jan. 29, 2006. Her body was found about a week later in a wooded area in Burien. She had been strangled.

No one has been arrested in connection with the case. Detectives are actively investigating the homicide, King County sheriff’s Sgt. John Urquhart said.

Investigators have searched Pietz’s 2003 Volkswagen Jetta for evidence. The car was abandoned in a parking lot near the University of Washington. They also seized computers from her office in Bothell and from the Lynnwood condominium she shared with her husband, David Pietz.

Detectives continue to ask anyone who may have information about the homicide to step forward. Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound recently released a reward poster featuring a picture of Nicole Pietz and her husband. The Schneiders are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever killed Nicole Pietz.

“It won’t bring her back but I owe her. I have to fight for her because if somebody deserves justice, Nicole does,” Schneider said.

Schneider and her husband are frustrated no one has been arrested. They have hired a private investigator.

They want answers. Some of what they know just leaves them with suspicions.

“She never left the house without her wedding ring. She was a proud married woman,” Schneider said. “Why was her wedding ring at home?”

Schneider believes someone knows something. She believes someone saw something. She hopes someone will do the right thing and step forward.

“I just hope their conscience will be their guide,” she said.

Schneider misses her daughter’s voice.

Pietz called her mother every day. Often she called for cooking advice. She liked to bring her husband dinner at work. And she didn’t want a day to go by without telling her mother that she loved her.

In the months following her daughter’s death, Schneider and her husband decided it was too hard to stay home where there were constant reminders of what had been lost.

Schneider and her husband took to their motor home, seeking out places she’d never been with her daughter.

The couple toured presidential libraries, explored eastern Canada and stopped in Oklahoma City at the memorial for the 168 people killed in the 1995 bombing.

Yet no matter how many miles she traveled, she couldn’t outrun her memories, or the hurt.

Wherever she is, she says she wakes up every Saturday morning at 1:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. That’s when Schneider believes her daughter took her last breath on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006.

“Somebody decided to play God and take my daughter,” Schneider said. “No one can steal my memories.”

Memorial planned

A memorial service for Nicole Pietz is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Evergreen Community Church, 3429 240th St. SE, Bothell. Pietz, 32, was reported missing from her Lynnwood home a year ago. A week later her body was found in Burien. She had been strangled.

Reward offered: Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound is offering up to a $1,000 reward and Pietz’s parents are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the Lynnwood woman’s death. Anyone with information is asked to call 800-CRIME-13 (800-274-6313).

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

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