BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Partial skeletal remains have been identified as those of a murdered Bakersfield woman who disappeared in September 2004.
Azita Nikooei was strangled by her fiancé Nathan Mowers, who admitted to the crime earlier this year as part of a plea to voluntary manslaughter. Mowers told authorities that he dumped Nikooei's body in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, but her body couldn't be found.
Bakersfield police said Friday that the San Bernardino County coroner's office found bones that matched Nikooei's DNA. Gold miners found a right human femur and left human pelvis in 2008 and 2009 in in the area of Red Mountain and Highway 395. The bones were extremely bleached, indicating they had been exposed to the elements for a long time.
The bones were sent to the Department of Justice for DNA comparison, and a match was made for Nikooei.
Prior to his plea, Mowers denied having anything to do with the disappearance of 29-year-old Nikooei, who worked as a dancer at Bakersfield's Deja Vu strip club. Nikooei was last seen at The Marketplace on Ming Avenue in Bakersfield, where she had lunch with Mowers. Police found her car in the movie theater parking lot four days later.
After strangling Nikooei, police said Mowers placed her body in his car and drove her body to dump in the high desert.
Mowers was charged with murder in May 2011 and arrested in Riverside County.