Continuing with the statements recorded by Pass Christian Police Sgt. W. Davis regarding the death of Nikki LaDue January.
For those who have been reading this series, some of the information is redundant, but I feel it is important to consider what led authorities to label the case a suicide.
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.
Note: The following statements appear in the order as recorded by Sgt. Davis. He spoke with Nikki's husband Phil (found the body), her friend Nancy Burge (entered the condo and then called 911), and others described below.
"Reporting Officer asked who did the pistol belong to that she used and he (Phil January) stated it was his. He stated that he was going to take it with him but she (Nicole) insisted that he leave it with her for protection, it puzzled him because she did not like guns."
Verifying that the gun found at the scene, the bullet found on an adjacent balcony, and the casing recovered from the complex's swimming pool (which I discuss in a moment) supported law enforcement's theory of suicide would have been invaluable in defending the decision by police to close the case.
But, as with the phone records, all this "extra work" was not performed since the case was quickly labeled a suicide.
Even more disturbing, all three pieces of evidence (gun, bullet, and shell casing) disappeared. It is unknown which items actually made it to the police property room or their disposition after being collected by authorities at the scene.
Mr. Phillip then contacted the child's natural father and he came and picked the child up at the scene. The child was not interviewed.
By not interviewing the child, I believe authorities missed an opportunity to learn if others had been in the condo that morning with the deceased woman, if the front door was locked or unlocked when it was believed that the child let Nancy Burge enter, what sounds if any he heard, etc.
In a previous post, guest blogger police officer Momma Fargo articulated the need to interview children at the scene of violent crimes--it may have made a difference as to what is believed to have happened to Ms. LaDue January.
Reporting officer was then approached by the condo's president...he was cleaning the pool this morning...0600 hours he found a shell casing in the pool...so he put it in the pool area drawer. Reporting officer and Coroner Hargrove went...to retrieve the casing. Hargrove took a picture of the casing and the swimming pool where he found the casing.
Sgt. Davis also indicated in the report that the casing was collected.
Unfortunately, a description of the casing was not included.
Was it from a .380 like the one found at the scene? Was it at least from a semi-auto handgun?
Where is the casing now? What happened to the coroner's photo?
Authorities have not answered any of these questions satisfactorily.
I'll stop there.
Next week I'll discuss a statement made by Nikki's babysitter to Sgt. Davis and how a misunderstood term, can be used as support for a theory--when the correct word actuality means something entirely different.
All posts on this topic can be viewed by clicking here: Nikki LaDue January.
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