Continuing with the LaDue January case.
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.
In the previous nine posts on the death of Nikki LaDue January, I have discussed multiple facets of the investigation--including Nikki's behavior the night before her life ended, the crime scene, the 911 call, police response, etc.
Here are three additional aspects of the case.
1) The Bullet
Note: The description of the bullet's trajectory was taken from the family's site here.
Authorities determined that Ms. LaDue January was shot once in the head. A physician who was hired by the family to conduct an independent autopsy confirmed this and theorized that the victim died near instantly.
Based on the findings of Pass Christian Police Detective Tom Putsay, the bullet entered Nikki’s right temple and exited through a tiny hole above her left ear. The family stated that the exit would was so small that three different funeral directors were unable to locate it.
After passing through Nikki, the investigator believes the round then hit the wall about 5 feet from the floor and just inches to Nikki’s left.
The bullet then ricocheted into the aluminum door frame on the same wall, and bounced back onto a chair on the adjacent balcony.
Unfortunately, no photos or diagrams were constructed to document the theory.
The family asks a valid question: How does a round fired from a .380 handgun (not the most powerful gun), do this yet leave such a small exit wound?
I can see their concern, but could envision this happening.
If the gun was pressed to the victim's temple when fired (as is believed) and the projectile was not significantly slowed as it passed through her head, the bullet's velocity could have followed the flight path Detective Putsay projects.
The problem with this theory is that authorities did not observe blood spatter or other discharge on the wall behind the deceased woman--where the bullet is believed to have been bouncing around.
Was the spatter there and not photographed or otherwise documented?
Or was it just not present?
Related to the bullet--the maintenance man who recovered a shell casing from the pool near Nikki's condo, believed it to be from a 9 mm handgun and not a .380.
Again, and unfortunately, the caliber of the bullet described in the police report and the type of shell casing recovered from the pool were not listed by authorities.
In sum, authorities describe a bullet and a shell casing found at the scene. No specifics about either piece of evidence was recorded, and the items have apparently disappeared (unclear whether they made it to the police property room or not)--so testing is not possible.
2) Nikki's Car
Nikki owned a convertible and took excellent care of it. Reportedly, Nikki was very security conscience--making sure that her vehicle and her music selections were secured. On the morning police had arrived and were investigating the woman's death, Nikki's babysitter (the woman who had taken care of her son the night before her death) was told that Nikki had been found dead, and drove over to the condo to speak to authorities.
Though police determined that a statement from the babysitter was unnecessary, the woman noted that Nikki's car was parked in the condo's lot with the top down.
Evidently, Nikki had left all of her music and other personal items unsecured that night.
The family argues that if Nikki had meant to spend the night at the condo, she would not have left the top down in her car--exposing the interior to the elements and to potential thieves.
3) The Condo
Prior to the night of her death, Nikki and her son had been staying with Nikki's friend Nancy. Nikki provided no specifics to her family, but indicated that she was afraid to stay at the condo. Reportedly, she was also afraid of guns, but knew her husband carried one--and authorities believe she found that gun and used it to end her life after arguing with her husband on the phone.
So, the condo represented a place of fear--yet Nikki decided to go back there with her young son the night before she moved out of state.
Did she go back just because it was more convenient to handle the move in the morning or was she there to meet someone?
Or, was she at the condo simply to have a private place to talk on the phone?
Family members stated that the condo was crammed full of items that were boxed and ready to be moved in the morning.
The beds did not even have sheets on the them.
Seemingly not the best place for her five-year old son to sleep.
So, it is reasonable to ask:
Did Nikki return to the condo that evening with the intention of staying the night or was she just there temporarily with plans to go elsewhere to sleep?
The scene as described would appear to favor the latter explanation.
All posts on this topic can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.
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