This is second half of my post on the 911 call from the Nikki LaDue January case.
You can read Part One here.
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.
D) The 911 Call (Part Two)
As discussed last time, the family produced a reenactment of the call, and it can be listened to by going to this post.
In cases that are quickly closed, as in Nikki LaDue January's death, follow-up is deemed unnecessary.
As such, actions like reviewing audio from the 911 call may not occur until well after the determination has been made--if at all.
If authorities had reviewed the call audio prior to classifiying the death as a suicide, I believe several parts of the conversation would have been of interest to them:
--The Caller: "Terrified" but Had Limited Information--
Family friend Nancy Burge, the woman who made the call to police, stated that Phil January (Nikki's husband) had asked her to call 911. She said that she was unsure exactly what had happened inside, but that "somebody I am concerned about, I am terrified, committed suicide" (1:29).
Why was she terrified? Allegedly and prior to her death, Nikki had been staying at Nancy's residence because she (Nikki) was afraid to be by herself in the condo.
Nancy also told authorities that Nikki was on the balcony, and that she could see Phil (also on the balcony) from where she was.
--The Caller: "He Came in Tonight"--
Referring to Phil, Nancy stated that "he came in tonight" (3:01). It was believed that Phil had just arrived at the condo that morning after driving from Louisiana. With the husband and Nikki arguing on the phone a few hours before she was discovered deceased, it would be imperative for investigators to have definitive timelines for the activities of various persons from the previous night and the morning in question.
--The Caller: "Just Take Him Out to the Car"--
Nancy tells someone to "just take him out to the car" (2:30)--evidently referring to Nikki's five-year old son.
Who was at the scene? Did anyone else enter the condo?
When authorities respond to a death scene with a child as a potential witness (and, as in this case, may be the only witness), I believe that it is imperative that an investigator speak to the young person.
Obviously, speaking to a child is not always immediately possible due to circumstances involving the death, the child's age, etc., but it is essential as children tend to be the most honest witnesses that authorities can hope to find.
In this case, the decision was made to not speak to Nikki's son about the death--he has never been interviewed.
Also, removing the child from the scene (as Nancy describes) is a reasonable action, but authorities need to know where he is so that plans can be made to speak with him.
In addition to asking if anyone else was at the condo, information that the investigator would hope to glean from an interview would include:
--What did mom tell you before you went to sleep?
--Did mom say if you all were staying the night at the condo?
--Was the door unlocked when you let Nancy inside?
--The Dispatcher: Calling the Condo--
The dispatcher closes the exchange by obtaining the condo's phone number, and then stating that he will call there directly.
Remember the bloody phone that was photographed on the table in front of the deceased?
After authorities disconnected with Nancy, the dispatcher tried unsuccessfully to reach Phil inside the condo.
Evidently, the portable phone was inoperable.
In sum, certain parts of the 911 call are unusual or incomplete, and the tape of the call would be helpful to detectives investigating this case--generating several follow-up activities and questions.
If it had not been closed.
But back to the dispatcher's inability to call into the condo.
Was that blood-covered telephone not working because the battery was dead, or is there another explanation?
I believe it was the latter, and I'll explain why next time.
All posts on this topic can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.
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