The Death of Nikki LaDue January: Part XIII

This post will finish selected statements recorded by Pass Christian Police Sgt. W. Davis in his report on the death of Nikki LaDue January...

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. 


Note: The following statements appear in the order as recorded by Sgt. Davis.

STATEMENT #8 (in reference to a shell casing being found by a maintenance man in the condo's swimming pool)

"When reporting officer looked up at the condo's (sic) reporting officer noticed Nicole's balcony was just above the pool."

"Just above the pool" appears to be a relative term.  Those familiar with the layout of the Nikki's complex state that the swimming pool is three stories below and between 20 and 40 feet from the ledge of the balcony.    According to authorities, the deceased woman died near instantly after shooting herself once in the head while seated at the wall away from the balcony's ledge. 

As such, the ejected casing would have had to fly from the handgun, and with the assistance of a bounce or wind, fall the required distance away from the railing to reach the pool.

Add another to the list of occurrences in this case that would be listed as possible, but not probable.


"...She heard a loud popping sound at approximately 0130 and did not know what it was.  She stated that a few days ago she heard some popping sounds but that it was kids popping fireworks."

Sgt. Davis talked to this witness and another who stated that they heard a loud sound around 1:30 am.  He also indicated that the witness described it as a windy night/morning--a factor that could support the location of the metal casing described above. 

For follow-up activities, comparing Nikki's phone records to what was going on around 0130 would have been at the top of the list--but since the case was deemed a suicide, no follow-up work was conducted by police.

STATEMENT #10 (in reference to what Nikki's babysitter is alleged to have told police)

"...She stated that she baby sat Zachary last night for Nichole and that everything seemed fine except that Nichole seemed very energetic. She stated that Nichole dropped Zachary off at her house at approximately 1230 hours and returned later than she planned. She picked up Zachary, talked for a minute, and left. She seemed fine except for being energetic."

Remember the coroner's report indicating that Nichole's body contained amounts of alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines?

Having someone describe Nikki hours before her death as "energetic" would certainly support authorities in their belief that she was under the influence of substances that would have impaired her judgment (thus, making her more likely to take her life).

A private investigator hired by the family reinterviewed everyone mentioned in the police reports--including the babysitter described by Sgt. Davis. She recounted what she told to police that morning in their very brief exchange, but did not characterize Nikki as "energetic"--rather as sorry that she was late in retrieving her son.*

Strangely, the babysitter denied that Nikki was more active than usual as well as ever saying "energetic."

What if the babysitter said "apologetic" but it was misheard by Sgt. Davis?

There is a big difference between "apologetic" and "energetic."

Recording a witness' statement accurately is essential.  When there is a mistake, it can make or break a case. 

In this investigation, the detective evidently digested Sgt. Davis' conversation with the babysitter as another factor that supported suicide, when in essence it did not.

*Note: A neighbor phoned the babysitter about Nikki's death and she drove to the scene that morning.  She stated that she spoke only briefly to an officer who was in his car (evidently Sgt. Davis), and provided him with her phone number and information.  She stated that no one contacted her for a detailed interview.

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


Pat Hatt said...

The casing does sound a bit out there, but not out of the realm of possibility. As far as not doing an official interview that's just seems like half ***ed work.

Anonymous said...

All American Girl Lived Life to its Fullest–Nikki LaDue January

I'm sickened by what I've reviewed in this case -- it sure looks like a sham (staged event). I truly believe that Nikki was murdered, and it makes me mad as hell that law enforcement is not treating this case as an unsolved murder. I have a daughter, and if someone took her life, I'd hunt the SOB down till I found him -- irrespective of law enforcement's willingness to pursue it. I can't pretend to imagine the pain her family has gone through, and continues to go through each day.

Clarissa Draper said...

I really hope that due to these articles, something can be done to re-open this case. Or that the police learn things to improve case-solving in the future.

Little Ms. Fun said...

I still can't believe that there are all the unanswered questions that the police did not deem necessary to investigate further. It scares me.

Bossy Betty said...

Fascinating and perplexing too. Very strange!

Carol Kilgore said...

Does anyone know the direction the wind was blowing and if that fits with the direction of the pool from Nikki's apartment balcony?

Lydia Kang said...

It's still unbelievable how much is wrong with this scenario.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

It seems crazy that someone could mistake apologetic for energetic, but I guess sometimes people hear what they want to hear.

Christina Lee said...

That photo gives me the chills! This series was awesome!

The Blonde Duck said...

I hope you had a great weekend!

Janet Johnson said...

Everytime I read about this case, it makes me so sad. So many problems with the case!

Maxi said...

Blood on the phone, casing in the pool, gun under her thigh…

These facts alone are suspicious and warrant further investigation.

logical minded engineer said...

The death of Nikki was quickly deemed a suicide by investigators. However, much of the evidence relevant to her death, upon which this decision was based, has vanished. Is this normal protocol for a competent police deparment? I'd like to test this theory, using the Pass Christian police department as the test case. If we reviewed the police records and evidence retained for the suicide victim immediately preceding and post-dating Nikki's death, is the data retention consistent with Nikki's case? Or, was Nikki's case unique in terms of lost evidence / records (i.e. the disposition of the weapon, bullet, shell casing photo, etc) and the time required to establish suicide as a motive? Also, why would the Medical Examiner order a toxicology report (which I believe takes days to get results back) after quickly ruling the death a suicide?! If Nikki's death was obviously a suicide (the investigating "professionals" arrived at this conclusion within hours), what was the purpose of the toxicology report? Was it to prove that Nikki was under the influence and not of sound mind . . . ? I'm suspicious that investigators in this case had a forgone conclusion (suicide), and then simply attempted to gather and document (or fabricate) evidence that supported this conclusion. The facts reported in this case do not seem to support an objective analysis.

logical minded engineer said...

When does a 9mm casing equal a .380 Auto casing?

When I learned of the details surrounding Nikki’s death, I couldn’t reconcile how the caliber weapon deemed responsible was a .380 Auto, when the shell casing recovered in the pool was reported as 9mm. As an owner of both a .380 Auto and 9 mm handgun, this simply didn’t add up. Comparing the .380 Auto and 9 mm cartridges in my gun safe, the 9 mm shell casing is clearly longer (by about 2 mm). Website commentary on Nikki’s murder by various internet posters conveyed that a 9 mm round could not be fired by a .380 Auto, further bolstering the possibility of foul play. However, after researching this seeming inconsistency further, I have found there is no discrepancy at all. When I buy a box of 9 mm ammo from my local retailer, I’m buying the world’s most popular handgun cartridge — a 9 mm Luger round (also known as a 9×19 mm Parabellum). However, just because the 9x19mm Parabellum is the most popular variant of the 9 mm cartridge, readily available at retailers, doesn’t mean it’s the only 9 mm variant. Today, I discovered there is a 9x17mm, 9x18mm, 9x21mm, 9x23mm, 9x25mm, etc — in addition to the popular 9x19mm. Why is this important? Well, the 9x17mm also goes by the name of .380 Auto or .380 ACP. In fact, there are many names for the .380 Auto cartridge (depending on the country of origin), many of which begin with 9mm. Here are some other examples: 9mm Short, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Court, 9mm Corto, 9mm Scurt, and 9mm Kratak (in case you’re wondering, you now have learned to say the word “short” in numerous languages). So, in answer to the question –”Could a .380 Auto caliber handgun have fired a 9mm cartridge?” – the answer is “Yes” if it was a 9mm Short and “No” if it was the popular 9 mm Luger. Given this, it is possible that the recovered shell casing was, indeed, stamped 9mm on the head stamp and was fired from the Sterling .380 ACP handgun found at the crime scene. I’m now more interested than ever in learning of the weight of the recovered bullet (was it consistent with the 9 mm Short or 9 mm Luger — the latter, of course, can weigh more).

Anonymous said...

I'd like to note that Phil, on the record, noted his gun was loaded with FMJ w/o casings. Since there was no ballistic testing, how does anyone know if the casing found aledgedly at the bottom of the pool by the Condo manager is even relevant?

Anonymous said...

Clipped for length

Near the end of 1999, Nikki LaDue found her knight in shining armor. Working on the floor of the Grand Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi, she would occasionally have to deal with an unruly gambler. When that happened, she’d call security. That’s how she met security manager Phil January. But at the same time, she also fighting demons no one could fight. Nikki was addicted to pain pills. She hid this well from her friends and family. Drugs were easy to come by at the Grand. In fact more than once, there were internal investigations that tried to break up an Oxy-ring. People lost their jobs but the drugs continued to flow.

Blog Post Link
Click above link to read, share and comment.

BobKat said...

1ST POI: Shell casing was 20-40' from balcony. Yeah, and the gun she "killed herself with" was crammed into her crotch. Fits in with the "science" some people dream up, sure thing.

RE: Phone records - why bother? Police investigator's seemed to know even before they arrived that a deceased woman inside the condo had committed suicide.


So they (the investigators) conduct a cursory investigation. They do a couple interviews. The "husbands" says it was suicide. What more need be said.

Baby-sitter statements; best-friend statements?

So "drugs" in her system - alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine. No marijuana???

We don't know what concentrations, though we do know each had short detection spans, where cannabis does not. Which tells me, only that she didn't use cannabis. That maybe she was used to a lifestyle that cost more than a dime bag of pot.

None of this suggests suicide. Sure, some people do "drugs" before they kill themselves; many do not. In fact the majority of the most serious of suicides, murder-suicides, often involve no drugs at all, including alcohol.

For some reason, people chose to be straight when they kill themselves. A fact which is apparently lost on those who like an "excusable reason", which unfortunately, is often not provided.

Take the case of the mother who killed her many children, so they would not suffer from the sin's of the devil. No drugs. Just a conviction that life was sin... inescapable.

Of all the people I know who attempted or succeeded at suicide, none were using drugs, including alcohol.

RE: Police and listening to "witness statements"... guess it depends on their perspective. In the case of Nikki Ladue January, the case seems closed when they walked in the door.

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

Cold Case No More: Through the Eyes of a Friend, Meet Nikki LaDue

Bob G. said...

They need a private party to get involved, much like John Walsh did when his son went missing...

There are more loopholes here (and large enough to drive a Kenworth through) that you can hear the wind whistling the William Tell Overture.
Amazing stuff.

Keep the updates coming.

Stay safe out there

NikkiLaDueJanuary said...

Interviews coming up…How Could So Many Things Have Gone Wrong in Pass Christian?
by holliston2012

I've been interviewing some people to see what they remember that July night in 2002. I've spoken to one of the first responders to the scene who had some very interesting things to say about the investigation, or rather, lack of investigation. I've spoken to Angelia Hursell who babysat Nick on July 28 and was one of the last people to see Nikki alive. She too was shocked when the policeman she spoke to on the scene didn't seem interested in talking to her. And what she did say, was misheard and misinterpreted and played a role in the quick assumption of suicide. Finally, tomorrow, Saturday, I will speak to Phil January, Nikki's husband when she died. A lot has been said and written about him and this will be his opportunity to give his side.

So bear with me...more to come hopefully by Saturday night.

Anonymous said...

My name is Timothy Donald Fisher. I have for the last 11 years gone by Don my middle name. 20+ years ago Nikki knew me in high school as Tim. We met at Lamoka Baptist camp. It is a summer sleep over camp. We fell quickly in what we thought back then was love and even now I feel was true love :). We continued to date for about a year. The distance between us of over 2 hours was the main thing that split us up. Then years went by and it wasn't until 2005 that I even gave it/her us any thought. I was married to the wrong woman and got divorced in 2004. I happened to be going by Angelica in the summer of 2005 and for what ever reason that weekend I thought of her. When I happened to inquire about her at the gas station/ general store there was an instant buzz about, so first someone asked who I was and then after I told them they told me she had taken her life. I was immediately greif stricken. I expected to find her happily married with children and living a perfect life. I was in instant denial that this could have happened to her! In the back of my mind was the hope that she was single and we could reunite. At that time I was a very accomplished and successful businessman. My work of electronic chip distribution has taken me all over the world. I have seen a lot of things and been enlighted by a lot of different points of veiw on things. From what I have read and seen and from what I remember of Nikki there is NO WAY she killed herself! I am thoroughly convinced she was murdered! Besides the fact she loved life she was a mom and as a mom the natural maturnal instinct kicks in. Then with her belief system I simply do not see it!
I could totally see someone having something on that crooked convicted dirty cop and getting him to help cover it up. If you read between the lines it really looks like there is a serious cover up here! I have already said several prayers that justice be done here for her and for her family. My heart goes out to her whole family. From what I remember they were really great people! She also knew my family a little bit and they are also saddened to hear that this has happened. I think what you are doing with this blog is SO AWESOME! If this doesn't post all over the place please make sure it gets posted to here!
Warmest Regards,
TD Fisher