The Death of Nikki LaDue January: Part V

Last week, I looked at the gun in relation to the victim's body.

In this post, I want to discuss another item at the scene: a cordless telephone.

Case Summary

In July of 2002, the body of Nikki LaDue January was found seated on the balcony of her condominium in Pass Christian, Mississippi.  Officers stated that she had a single gun shot wound to her right temple area.

A Sterling .380 caliber pistol was partially under her left thigh on a chair, her right leg was propped up against the table in front of her, and a cordless phone on the table was covered in blood.

There were two different brands of cigarettes and two different lighters on the table in front of her.

A bullet was located in a chair on the next balcony, and a shell casing was later found by a maintenance man in the condo's pool.

Ms. January had apparently been deceased for several hours, and her five-year old son was found in the residence unharmed.

Authorities at the scene quickly classified the death as a suicide. 


B) The Telephone

Near the end of Pass Christian Police Department detective Tom Pustay's investigative narrative, a report where he describes the death scene of Ms. LaDue January, he makes the following curious statement:

"...There is a cordless phone on a table that is covered with blood.  It is unknown how it got there or how the blood got on it..."

As the report continues, a reader expects the detective, who has introduces a seemingly out of place bloody phone, to clarify that initial statement.

He does not. 

Strangely, no additional information about the phone is included in Pustay's report, but he photographed it (shown below).

Blood Covered White Phone (Photo Credit)

The family allowed me to review a second police report on the case--that of one of the police first responders that morning: Sgt. Willie Davis.

Sgt. Davis' description of the scene does not mention the bloody phone on the table.

So, two detailed reports of a death scene thought to be a suicide, and an object that was evidently covered in blood and lying on a table about five feet from the body, is barely mentioned.

But, why is the phone important?

Remember, the pathologist hired by the family to examine Nikki's body stated that death occurred "immediately or very rapidly after immediate loss of consciousness."

So, a bloody phone on a table would have been either placed there by the woman immediately as she was dying or, and here we go again, moved there by someone else. 

Now, the phone was evidently moved once by Nikki's husband, Phil January.

According to documents provided by Nikki's family, Phil stated that he initially saw the phone "in the middle of her lap." 

Mr. January evidently added that the phone was covered in blood (as in the photo), not near Nikki's hand, and was in an area of her lap that had no blood stains.

In addition, the family states that Phil was also confused by the source of the blood on the phone, spoke with Detective Pustay about it, and was concerned over the investigator's dismissal of the detail. 

When authorities arrived it was said that the phone's battery was dead.

In sum, a woman's death is declared a suicide.  The gun believed to be used in the death is found in a chair partially under one of the victim's legs.  A portable phone covered in blood, is seen on a table in front of the woman--but it is unknown how the blood got there.

It is reasonable to argue that the gun was moved and later placed between the victim's legs.

The telephone was moved at least once before the body was photographed--and it is likely that the item was relocated twice prior to police arriving.

That said, this renders more questions than anything:

--How did the phone get covered in blood?

--Was she holding the phone at the time of death?

--Who moved it (how many times) and why?

This "open-and-shut suicide" case appears to be anything but that.

I'll have more next Tuesday--including another strange item photographed on Ms. LaDue January's table, but not mentioned in police reports.

All posts on this topic can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.


Jen said...

Women rarely use guns to commit suicide. That alone makes me suspicious.

Momma Fargo said...

Great posts! You are reading like a true suspense novel and can't wait for all of your assessments. Not to be judgemental, but well, I am...sounds like a ball was dropped somewhere.

Clarissa Draper said...

As I see it, there can only really be a few scenarios:

(a) it was a suicide and someone came--perhaps not liking that the victim took her life in that way or perhaps to frame the husband or perhaps an officer moved things because he was incompetent--placed the items in an odd way afterwards.

(b) it was murder and someone did a horrible job at making it look like a suicide

(c) it was murder and to confuse law enforcement, placed things in unexplainable ways. Because really, the way things are placed are horribly unexplainable.

Jeanette Levellie said...

You are a regular Hercule Poirot, or Ellery Queen. Great job! said...

Your comment, "This 'open-and-shut suicide' case appears to be anything but that," is the most telling comment.

Nothing in this case really screams murder to me. However, Mr. January's account is different from what the police reported and photographed. Now, Mr. January's account does not scream murder either, but both are different.

Something happened, postmortem, to change the crime scene. It might have been police. It might have the person finding the body instinctively grabbing the first phone in sight. It needs to be explained, however,.

Certainly, this needed greater investigation.

Breakthrough Investigations said...

Did they check the phone records to see the last calls made or received?

Ken Cote said...

I am concerned who the officers at the scene were. Was there any contact in the past between the victim or her husband by the officers? I would be looking at the police involved in the investigation a little closer. Something doesn’t smell right here. I can understand a mistake but a blood covered phone is something you wouldn’t forget to mention.

Ken Cote Investigations

Tara said...

Interesting, indeed.

If both legs were propped, it could account for the gun being under a leg (if the leg fell). But would someone really be sitting so casually (legs propped) if they're debating/carrying out suicide?

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm no investigator, but there are several fishy things here.

Bob G. said...

The more you try and figure ONE thing out on this case, five MORE inconsistencies surface...

Way too hinky, and too many items of note summarily passed over.

Keep digging.

Stay safe.

Bounty Hunter said...

I posted my suspicions before. Hopefully the investigators assigned to the case wuld do a simple DNA analysis of the cigareets butts to determine who smoked them. Also, a latent check could pull up who handled the phone and check to see the records. Since I can only assume there was no forced entry, it seems she had company and involved an assailant. I mentioned that an angle of projectory could not be possible and for the gun to end up under her leg after firing the weapon. It appears staged after the weapon was discharged.

Scott Bernstein- Falcon Investigations

Anonymous said...

the question is: where was the phone at the time of the gunshot? The blood on the phone appears to be spattered and dry, not smeared, as with hand or fingerprints. So can it be assumed it was not touched or moved until much later?

Anonymous said...

to answer Breakthrough Investigations..according to the official land line records, the last answered call ended at 1:49 a.m. on the 29th. All subsequent incoming calls went to the voice mail service.

Lydia K said...

Again, VERY suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Curious, very curious. It sounds like some police officers just wanted to get rid of the "paper work" and not really "investigate." The situation with the phone is odd and would suggest to me that the whole scene was staged.

David Walker

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I'm going to have to go back and read your other posts... I'm intrigued!

BobKat said...

The phone obviously got blood on it from the bullet that exited the left side of her head. The gun being held by the killer was placed between her legs. For obvious reasons. The phone was picked up off the floor, and the blood on it was not touched as the killer had enough sense to know that would leave fingerprints.

The BIG question I have is, IS, why were the police so inept in pursuing this death? Why so quick to call it a suicide? Even if a suicide, why no proper procedure to secure the scene, photograph and collaborate statements made by the witnesses?

When use of marijuana is subject to SWAT teams securing the domicile of peaceful persons, why is the "death by gunshot" not treated equally, or honesty, with far more action?

I emphasis again... there is no presented evidence that Nikki was suicidal. There is evidence she was in a potentially/alleged abusive relationship. There is evidence she planned to extricate herself from that relationship. And there is evidence she is dead!

Honestly, the lack of investigation into the death of Nikki LaDue January is one of the worst cases of CSI ever presented. Every single investigator on this case should be investigated and their backgrounds into possible complicity investigated.

Disclaimer: Death by suicide is not an easy thing to accept... initial responses by first responders are bound to be difficult. Even a small town police dept however should be expected to treat a death by firearm as suspect, and all avenues to determine just cause for suicide should be determined suspicious, until otherwise evidence determines it was in fact a suicide. This case was wrapped up so quickly as to scream "cover-up". So the issue now, is, WHY???

Candice said...

Hopefully at some point you'll give us your take on it!!

Miss Caitlin S. said...

gooosssh, so interesting, seriously- what happened. I'm not even going to Google this because I'd rather read your description on the Blog but I am hoping you actually know the outcome or is this just an unsolved case??? Besides, if she had held the phone wouldn't there be a blood trail between the location of the phone and her body???

S. DeGon LLI/CP said...

Questions; I just got the newest update and my first one, so?

1) Alibis of husband
2) Phone Records (who'd she call
3) Fingerprints on the phone/Gun?
4) In most cases women, will not
commit suicide with their child
only feet away. They will
normally leave their child
with someone, or take the
childs life with their life.
5) According to the doctor, death
was fairly quick. The gun was
put there under her leg, as
well as the phone. Did they
compare the blood on the phone
with her blood?
6) Did anyone ask friends, family?
if she was having any problems
with anything or anyone?

There are hundreds of question the cops should have asked, before declaring this a suicide. I would be very suspicious about the police reports. Who did she talk to last? Was her and her husband having trouble? I wouldn't let this go if I was her family.

Anonymous said...

Husband was a cop. Husband was well connected to cops. Husband had/has a huge ego and a jealous side. HE should be suspect number one, and this case should be immediately reopened with him at the forefront...

Anonymous said...

Husband was not a cop, that was a myth in his own mind. He was a safety specialist.

Anonymous said...

i think it would be doubtful they'd have any collected "evidence" hanging around, like the cigarette butts, to do any testing on, since they declared it a suicide and not a homicide. i hope they eventually do re-open the case, and solve it, as it sounds like this poor woman was murdered, and that someone has gotten away with the crime.

Anonymous said...

Her husband was not a cop he was a security guard and actually lost one job because he slapped a female customer! He was controlling and a proven liar. Not accusing him of murder just saying....

Candace Dempsey said...

Jen, did she have good reason to commit suicide? The phone is an intriguing detail. Not sure what it means. Great job of building tension. I do want to know, what happened next?

Slamdunk said...

Sorry I am so late responding to these.

@ Jen: Though the stats on that have changed in the past decades, your point still remains an important consideration.

@ Ken: I was told that one of the officers responding knew the victim, but I am not certain about other previous contacts with those at the scene.

@ Breakthrough..: The family did access some of the phone records but did not release them to the public.

@ Bounty Hunter: Yes, the position of the body and the gun is very odd if one wants to call it a suicide.

@ Anonymous: I covered the phone with a post and still have another aspect about it to discuss--it is a head scratcher.

@BobKat: Why did the investiagation go this way? I can only guess.

Anonymous said...

i hate to give any thought to rumor but..THIS IS ONLY HERESEY.. I was told, the day after Nikki's death, her husband Phil showed up to the Grand Casino Gulfport with scratch marks on his face. Is it true? Has anyone checked this out?