‘I told him that I loved him’: Girlfriend speaks out after Redi-Cab driver killed in Southcenter

SOUTHCENTER, Wash. — A tearful plea from the girlfriend of a Tumwater cab driver who was murdered, his body left at Southcenter Mall. How she says you can help track down his killer.

The 34-year-old Tumwater man was driving a Redi-Cab overnight last Sunday. His body was found the next day.

His killer remains on the loose. Whoever killed him, forever changed his girlfriend’s life.

One of his coworkers told Nicole Sharkody that her longtime boyfriend planned to propose marriage in June. But he never got the chance. He was found unconscious in this parking lot at Southcenter Mall, some 55 miles from the Tumwater home they shared.

“He made me laugh,” Sharkody said. “I told him that I loved him, and I went to bed.”

That was the last time Sharkody saw the man she loved. Thirty-four-year-old Nicholas Hokema, ‘Nick’ she called him, was off to work his 12-hour shift as a driver for Redi-Cab.

But overnight, his co-workers got worried when they couldn’t reach him. When she tried, neither could she.

“It went straight to voice mail, almost like he had sent me to voice mail,” she said. “But I knew he wouldn’t do that.”

At noon, she went to the Tumwater police station to file a missing person’s report. Instead, a Tukwila police officer came into the room.

“He sat me down and said, ‘There’s no easy way for me to say this, but Nick is deceased,’” she recalled, her voice breaking. “And all sound went away.”

Tukwila police say early Monday morning, someone found Hokema, unconscious, lying in the parking lot of the Southcenter Mall. He later died in SeaTac.

The King County Medical Examiner said he suffered “multiple sharp force injuries,” and his death was ruled a homicide. His Redi-cab was nowhere to be found.

“I haven’t always had the best luck with relationships,” said a tearful Sharkody. “It took me years before I even thought about dating again.”

“But I am so glad that I met him,” she continued.

He helped her to know, she said, that she could be loved.

“Yes,” she said. “And I hope I made him feel the same way.”

Nicole Sharkody says she is speaking out in hopes that someone who knows something will come forward.

She says she needs to know what happened so she can go on without the man she loved so much.