OAKLAND PARK (CBSMiami) – Friends of a 19-year-old woman murdered inside her Oakland Park apartment earlier this month gathered Tuesday night at Fort Lauderdale Beach in her memory.
Friends and classmates of Nikki Franco wore her favorite color purple, shared stories of her, comforted one another and released balloons with personalized messages to the skies.
Franco was studying to become a pastry chef and met Dolores Garcia while studying at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. They planned to open a bakery together.
“She was taken too soon from us,” Garcia said. “I wanted to do so many things with her. I really loved her. I really, really truly loved her.”
Garcia said Franco touched the lives of those around her.
“She made me want to follow my dreams and pursue them and she really made me stronger as a person,” Garcia said.
But Garcia’s strength is being tested.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says Franco called 911 in the early morning hours of June 3 to report a burglary in progress in her Bridgewater Place apartment. Deputies responded quickly and searched but did not have an apartment number. Investigators say they eventually found an open sliding glass door and Franco’s dead body inside. Her killer has not been caught. That leaves Franco’s friends desperate for answers and filled with endless questions.
“Why anybody would do such a thing? How a situation like that could even happen to her?” wondered Robin Batat.
“Justice, right? Just justice,” said Brittany Shick. “The only question we have is when it’s going to happen.”
As they wait for an arrest, Franco’s friends focus on their positive memories.
“She’s just a really, really happy, loving person,” said Shick.
And pray that her parents can someone find the strength to carry on.
“Something like this is a tragedy that parents can’t get over something like that,” Batat said.
Franco’s best friend — Dolores Garcia — tells CBS 4 News that she still plans to open the bakery the pair dreamed of someday and she will do it in Nikki’s memory, she said.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says there is a $3-thousand dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case. If you have any information contact Crimestoppers at 954 493 TIPS.