Niki Diane Britten, age 15, went missing from Albany, Oregon on July 16, 1969.

She is believed to have run away, and has a history of temporarily running away in the past.   Niki was living with her grandparents in 1969, her mother and stepfather had just married and were living in Pennsylvania.

Two months after her disappearance, she called friends of the family, thinking her grandparents would be at their home.   Her grandparents were not there, but she told the friends that she was working in New York and that she was doing well.

Long after Niki’s disappearance, a note signed “Niki” surfaced at her grandparent’s home.  The writer of the note said not to worry about her, that she had been to a lot of places, and was living with some people in a big old house.  It said that she might come home someday, but right now, she had to do what’s best for her.

Niki’s mother is skeptical about Niki having written the note.  It is not believed to have been mailed, so Niki would have had to drop it off at her grandparent’s home.   Niki’s mother said the letter was ‘disjointed’ and didn’t sound like Niki.  She suspects that her mother (Niki’s grandmother) wrote the letter to herself, in order to make herself feel better. 

Niki has not been seen or heard from since 1969, and there has been no activity on her social security number.

In a perfect world, it would be possible to check phone records from September 1969 to see where that call came from.  If the records were still available, it wouldn’t be too difficult, as there were no unlisted numbers at that time.  I see a few possible scenarios involving the phone call:

1) Niki did call the family friends from New York.

2) Niki did call the family friends and said she was in New York, when she was elsewhere.

3) Someone else called the family friends pretending to be Niki.

4) The phone call never happened at all.

There may be a logical reason for Niki to call the family friends instead of calling her grandparents directly, but it could also enable someone who wasn’t Niki to call with less chance of a difference in voice being noticed.   If Niki didn’t make the call herself, then I think whoever did make the call may have also written the note.

Niki did state in the phone call, according to the family friends, that she was working, which tells me she would have needed some sort of social security number – but since there’s been no activity on hers, it would suggest she was using someone else’s – IF she really was working in New York.    This is why I think a lot could be gained by researching the phone records – it would confirm whether she was really in New York, and where in New York.

It doesn’t make sense to me that her grandmother would write a letter from Niki to herself in an attempt to make herself feel better, as I’m sure that every time she saw it, she would remember writing it.    I can, however, see her grandmother possibly writing the letter for Niki’s mother to find after she passed away. 

If they have an actual handwriting sample from Niki, I think they should have it examined through a professional handwriting analysis. 

Niki’s grandparents and her father are all deceased now, but her mother is still searching for her.  Niki would be almost 60 years old now, and may have children and grandchildren of her own.  She could be anywhere.

She had been in a juvenile corrections facility in 1966 and 1967, prior to running away, so it’s reasonable to think she may have some sort of criminal record as an adult. 

I really hope someday the call from New York can be confirmed, and examined in more detail, as well as the note that could indicate she was back in Oregon at some unknown time.   These two things would make a huge difference in determining likely places to look for her.


Charley Project

Albany Democrat-Herald

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