As the series continues, I transition from discussing the case's evidence to examining the related statements.
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.
The following are selected statements recorded in the report by Sergeant W. Davis who was a first-responder with the Pass Christian Police Department.
It is one of the two known police reports that describe the death scene of Nikki LaDue January.
Sgt. Davis spoke with Nikki's husband Phil (found the body) and her friend Nancy Burge (entered the condo and then called 911).
Note: The following statements appear in the order as recorded by Sgt. Davis.
"Reporting officer asked if Nicole had any problems and Burge stated that Nicole had a cocaine problem."
One would expect this standard probing question asked at the scene of every potential suicide. If the sergeant followed-up with Nancy on her statement about the drug problem and asked specifics about frequency of use, the deceased's mental state, money issues related to a supposed dependency, etc., it is not recorded.
"As reporting officer talked to Phillip in conversation Phillip told reporting officer that he was a police officer in Texas for twenty years."
A private investigator hired by the family was unable to confirm this employment claim. In general, law enforcement agencies limit information on workers to verification of employment dates, and something similar to "will the agency rehire the individual: yes or no." Also, if the agency's employment files are subject to open records laws, a person could be granted permission to view the personnel file of a current or previous employee.
In essence, whether an individual was a police officer in Texas for two decades should be simple to confirm--but it was not.
"He stated that he had been gone for two weeks and he had just talked to his wife on the phone at approximately 0145 hours this morning."
If the death case was not closed so quickly, statements like this could be properly evaluated based on traditional investigative work.
Review the police reports. Collect phone records. Digest what makes sense.
Unfortunately, Ms. LaDue January's death was classified a suicide, so no follow-up work was deemed necessary.
"Phillip stated that his wife Nichole had a cocaine problem and was addicted to pain pills, but he was trying to help her with her drug problem."
Since the deceased's death certificate lists cocaine and other substances in her body at time of death--though the amounts were not noted--gathering information on this topic is relevant.
How might have her judgment been impacted that night/morning?
Related to Mr. January's statement--Sgt. Davis recorded that Mr. January's help included moving Nikki to Louisiana away from drug suppliers in Mississippi.
But with the revelation that Nikki evidently did not plan to move to Louisiana, and had planned to (again evidently) end the marriage, one wonders how the conversation went between them at 0145 that morning.
I'll have more on the recorded statements next time, including the explanation as to why the gun used was in the condo the morning Ms. LaDue January passed away.
All posts on this topic can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.
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