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