The Death of Nikki LaDue January: Part I

I wanted to dedicate some time in the following weeks to a "closed" death investigation from July of 2002--that of Nichole "Nikki" LaDue January.

I try to base my crime writings on news accounts and official documents, but since this case is dated, I am relying on one of the police reports and the family's website for this post.

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Nichole LaDue January (Photo Credit)

On Monday morning, July 29, 2002, officers from the Pass Christian Police Department near Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi, investigated a possible suicide on the third floor of the Gulf Palm Condominiums.

According to a police report, an investigator arrived and observed the body of a white female approximately 30 years old on the balcony of the condo.

She was seated in a chair facing the southwest with her head slumped back and to the right.

The investigator stated that there was a single gun shot wound to the right temple area of her head with an exit wound on the left side of her head.

Her eyes were blackened and she was dressed in shorts, a white tank top, and a sweater buttoned around her neck.

A Sterling .380 caliber pistol was partially under her left thigh on the chair.

Her right leg was propped up against the table in front of her.

A cordless phone on the table was covered in blood.

There were two different brands of cigarettes (Marlboro mediums and Marlboro regular) and two different lighters on the table in front of her.

A bullet was located in a chair on the next balcony to the north, and was believed to have passed through the victim's head, struck a screen door and then bounced to where it was found.

A condo employee found a shell casing in the pool--which is situated below the balcony and twenty-feet to the west.

The investigator also indicated that he believed that the victim had been dead for several hours.

The victim, Nikki LaDue January, was to be moving that day--separating from Phil, her husband of two years.*

A friend of January's arrived at 9:30 am and was let into the apartment by the deceased's five-year old son who told her that mom was sleeping.

The friend was unable to locate the Nikki (stated she did not look on the balcony), but the victim's husband, Phil, arrived a short time later and found the body.

Authorities concluded on-scene that the death was a suicide.

As a result, most of the possible evidence was not processed, no autopsy was conducted, no blood was collected, and so on.

But did Nikki LaDue January take her own life?

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I'll continue the discussion of this suspicious death next time, and all posts on this topic can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.

*Note: I had incorrectly stated that Ms. LaDue January was leaving for Louisiana the day of her death--it was modified to just say that she was moving.

12 comments:

J. J. in Phila said...

Having been a smoker, and knowing a large number, the cigarettes and lighters would not be significant. Brands have a different taste, sizes do not.

Many smokers have disposable lighters that the put down, forget where they put them and get a fresh one, only to find the first one.

You said "blackened eyes." Is that a black eye indicated she had been punched? Was her nose broken?

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

The brands were different. Eyes were blackened from being shot in the head. No her nose wasn't broken. The 1st link to real crimes has photos and reports.

Also here is

Nikki's Blog

Rachel Cotterill said...

Hmm, do you really have time to tuck a gun under your leg after you've just shot yourself in the head? (I have no experience with these things beyond reading murder mysteries...)

Diana said...

Interesting. Verrrrry interesting. Looking forward to your next post on this, Slam.

Jennifer Hillier said...

Interesting. From just this post, it doesn't sound like suicide...

J. J. in Phila said...

Nikki, if I may call you that, both brands were Marlboro's, according to the police report. They were different types, regular and a longer variety.

As for the eyes, I was unfamiliar with that effect and was wondering if she was assaulted.

BobKat said...

Another well written post with detail to works.

The gun was found under her "left thigh", but she was shot through her right temple, and her head leaned right. A .380 doesn't pack a lot of punch, so it's doubtful her head was slammed to the left and back again.

How does a person shoot themselfs in the right temple and drop the gun under there left thigh, let alone "partially under" her left thigh. Her right leg was propped against a table. Could be and indication she dreaded pulling the trigger, or someone put it there, or she was trying to gain leverage before being shot.

Although the cigarettes seem unimportant, and yes, I've had on occasion two types of the same brand of cigarettes, it's uncommon. Same with the lighters. But the two enigmas together make for doubt she was alone.

The ex-husband? Why did he show up when the friend arrived, and the child, lucky for him he was sleeping.

Good post Slam...

Candice said...

Very interesting. Looking forward to reading more. I have been watching a new show, Crime 360. Ever hear of it?

J. J. in Phila said...

BobKat, there are photos of the gun on the blog Nikki linked to.

The gun was barely under the thigh. The other leg was up on a table.

Now, I'm wondering if both Ms. January's legs were up on the table when the shot was fired. The shot was fired, the gun fell, or was placed, on the chair, and then Ms. January's leg slid off the table.

She would have been reclining, with her feet propped up, when the shot was fired. That's an unusual position for suicide, but not impossible.

ladyfi said...

So very sad...

Creepy Query Girl said...

huh. Sounds suspicious to me...

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comments all, and I plan to address your issues specifically in the next several posts.

@ JJ: The eyes certainly could have been an indicator of a shot at close range or physical abuse not related to the bullet.

@ Rachel: You are right--that is an odd detail.

@ BobKat: Your leverage comment is interesting. I had not thought of that.

@ Candice: I was not familiar with that show--I went to AETV and saw they had some full preview episodes; I'll have to watch. Thanks.