PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the world watched the unprecedented terror attacks on 9/11, Robyn Parsons was trapped in her own personal nightmare.

Her daughter, 27-year-old Nicole Parsons Bucki, had just been found dead in her Charles Street apartment.

“When I pulled into the driveway, I saw detectives unmarked cars … and you just get bad feeling in your stomach. It’s intuition,” she recalled. “At the moment the Twin Towers were being hit by the jet, the policemen were telling me that my daughter had been killed. She was dead, and I just started to scream out her name.”

Providence Police Major David Lapatin tells 12 News that Nicole was found in her bathtub with a hairdryer in the water. But an autopsy revealed she hadn’t been electrocuted; the medical examiner determined she’d actually drowned. Lapatin said it’s likely Nicole knew her killer.

Nicole and her boyfriend, who was a juvenile at the time, had a violent relationship, according to Lapatin.

According to police, Nicole had called authorities on her boyfriend the day before her death. He was briefly taken into custody and released. Less than 24 hours later, Nicole was dead.

In an emailed statement, Nicole’s boyfriend at the time tells 12 News he cooperated with investigators and maintains his innocence.

“I loved Nikki just as much as anyone else, if not more,” he wrote. “I’ve talked to so many investigators, took multiple DNA tests. There’s nothing much I can do at this point.”

Lapatin wouldn’t say whether Nicole’s boyfriend was ever ruled out as a suspect, but admitted that investigators lost some of the evidence connected to the case.

“Even though we have our thoughts and our ideas, we have to have proof, and whether or not that evidence would have given us the proof … you don’t know,” Lapatin said. “It didn’t at the time because he wasn’t charged.”

More than 20 years later, Nicole’s mother has teamed up with Lauren Malloy, whose organization Unsolved RI is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

“Unsolved RI started looking into it and very quickly realized something was off,” Malloy said. “This case deserves to be brought out into the light and investigated and advocated for.”

Parsons tells 12 News her daughter was her only child. She described Nicole as happy, fun-loving and curious.

Although she can’t go back in time, Parsons hopes her daughter’s story can help others.

“If I can help one young lady get out before things like this do happen, then a piece of my heart has got a little more of a fill to it, because I helped someone in Nicole’s name by letting her story be known,” she said. “After 20 years … her story deserves to be told.”

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