Piecing the Puzzle Together: Why Was Nikki LaDue January Murdered?
For the past couple of months, we’ve all been taken on a journey of Nikki LaDue January’s life and her murder on July 29, 2002. A very unscientific poll here says many of you believe Phil January, her husband was involved. A distant second is someone who was supposed to be her closest friend Nancy Burge.
I don’t think there is any evidence that can put the gun in Phil’s hands. After talking to him and reading all the reports, it is my opinion, and my opinion only that law enforcement needs to open this case and look long and hard at Phil January. An equally hard look needs to be taken at Nancy Burge whose statements after Nikki’s death are not one of a friend at all but of someone who is either covering her tracks or the tracks of an accomplice. There’s no doubt in my mind Nikki was murdered and these two need to step up and tell the truth.
Phil claims it couldn’t have been him because he was driving all night long from Louisiana and arrived in Pass Christian, Mississippi mid-morning the day Nikki died. Phone records show he was on the phone with her for hours in the early morning arguing over something that carried on for at least 20 separate calls. Most of the calls were placed from Phil’s cell phone. What’s not clear is this. Was Phil actually making those calls? Was someone else using his phone to provide an alibi? If Phil indeed was making those calls, where was he? Because the Pass Christian police immediately ruled this a suicide, the phone records and cell phone tower pings were not made available to private investigators for an in-depth analysis.
Phil January claimed his marriage with Nikki was in great shape. He loved her very much and she loved him very much. Nancy Burge, when she was questioned briefly by police said the couple had a great marriage with no problems. As you will see, both were less than truthful. The question becomes why? With some names redacted to protect their identities, here are some statements made to the private investigator as well as comments made to Nikki’s mom Bonnie LaDue.
On 4-9-03, XXXXXXXX, a long time friend of Ms. January’s stated that Nikki told her that “Phil leaves notes to me saying I’m a slut/whore and drug addict”.
XXXXXX a friend and XXXXX of Nikki’s was interviewed on 4-23-03 and she states that “Nikki was afraid of Phil” and on several occasions she sent Nikki home because “Phil and Nikki had fought and she was too distraught to work”. She also states that Phil was “very controlling and didn’t want Nikki to have friends”. XXXXX goes on to say that she believes Nikki was mentally abused by Phil and in her last telephone conversations with Nikki stated that she did not want to move to Shreveport, LA.
On 2-18-03 XXXXXXX was interviewed, and states that on 7-27-02 she was at Nikki’s condo XXXXXX and said XXXX overheard Nikki “arguing” with her husband over the telephone. XXXXX also states that she is “afraid” of Mr. January.
XXXXXX a co-worker and friend of Ms. January was interviewed on 2-24-03 and she states “that Nikki had a fight with Phil on Saturday, 7-27-02 over the telephone” and stated that Nikki was “scared of Phil.” She also said that Nikki stated that “Phil had a bad temper” and things that Nikki was “mentally abused” by Phil.
XXXXXXX a friend and co-worker of Ms. January’s was interviewed on 4-9-03. XXXXX states that Nikki was crying one day and told her “Phil threatens me” and “Phil leaves “post-it” notes in every cabinet in the condo saying I’m a piece of shit and slut”. XXXXX also states that Ms. January told her “when I get back from Florida, I’m going to break it off with Phil”.
XXXXX a friend and co-worker of Ms. January’s states that she witnessed Nikki crying over the telephone while talking to her husband. She stated that “Phil was restricting Nikki”.
Alan Prince was interviewed on 4-29-03. Mr. Prince is a security supervisor at the Grand Casino Gulfport and also was a co-worker and friend of Mr. January (Mr. January worked in security at the Grand at one time). Mr. Prince states that “Phil would call and check who Nikki was hanging out with”.
From a letter sent by the private investigator to Detective Thomas Pustay, he offers more information.
Ms. January’s friend and co-worker, Nancy Burge, made the 911 call to the Pass Christian Police Department on the morning of 7-29-02. Ms. Burge is heard to say on the 911 tape that Mr. January “he (Mr. January) came in tonight”. When interviewed Ms. Burge did state she got in her car about 2:00 AM and was going to check on Nikki. Ms. Burge stated that she decided not to go, but felt like something was wrong. Ms. Burge claims she talked (telephone) to Mr. January about 10:30 PM on the 28th at her work and that Mr. January was upset he could not “find” Nikki. Ms. Burge did say that during this conversation Mr. January said Nikki “beeped” in and he would talked to Ms. Burge later.
The Bell South telephone record of the January’s shows that from 11:09 PM on the 28th to 1:40 AM on the 29th the January’s were in numerous telephone conversations. The phone record indicates that when Mr. January called Ms. January all zero’s would appear from the number Mr. January was using. These zeros indicate the phone that Mr. January was calling from was either a “blocked” cell or more than likely, a calling card. Ms. January did try to call his company (Boomtown Casino) cell phone ((318) 207-0763) four times, but it seems Mr. January did not answer this phone (Mr. January is known to always have his cell phone by his side). When Ms. January does call Mr. January she calls the toll free Boomtown Casino number ((877) 762-4420). It is highly probable, that Mr. January could have told the switchboard operator at Boomtown Casino to “forward” his calls to his company cell phone during this time period, which could mean Mr. January could be anywhere. Also, Mr. January could make calls from his company cell phone using a calling card when he contacted Ms. January. If this scenario holds true, Mr. January can not account for his whereabouts during the time frame of his wife’s death.
There are no records indicating Detective Pustay ever responded to this highly charged report. That said, the police department never did anything further to investigate.
Two of Nikki’s friends had some information they wanted to tell Bonnie. One said Nikki told them she was in the process of getting Phil out of her life. Two weeks later, Nikki was dead. After telling Bonnie this, they later refused to answer any more questions because they said they had been threatened not to. They wouldn’t say by whom.
The private investigator whose partial report you see above clearly believed Nikki was murdered and suspected Phil and likely Nancy were involved. However, shortly after he sent this letter to the police, he quit the investigation with no explanation to Bonnie. Bonnie and her husband went to Mississippi in 2003 to meet with him and at that time, the investigation was going well. He said he would get back to her a few days after she returned home to Florida. He didn’t. Bonnie tried calling for 3 weeks without getting a hold of him. In the meantime, a blood spatter expert hired by the LaDue’s working off the few Polaroid pictures he had said suicide was a possibility. He emailed Bonnie and the PI and told them that. At that point, the PI called Bonnie and said it’s time to accept suicide. This despite all the information he had gathered which showed the complete opposite. The blood spatter expert was a thousand miles away and had very little to work with. The PI had been entrenched in his investigation.
Another investigator had this to say, “There are no indications that the area was canvassed for possible witnesses. There were no polygraphs administered to the surviving spouse who should have been the primary suspect in this case. The five-year old son was not interviewed and was old enough to have provided truthful information, regardless of what that information was. It is possible that the child may have known who was on the porch with his mother. There are questions about the blood flow pattern on the left side of Nikki’s head as well as the lack of blood on her shirt. A blood pattern expert could have been consulted for a professional medical opinion. There is a question regarding the lack of blood splatter on the wall from the exit wound, however due to the poor quality Polaroid photographs I am unable to determined with absolute certainty that there was in fact no spatter. This is a difficult case made worse by an inadequate investigation by the Pass Christian Police Department. There are a few issues they could clear up if they wished to take the time to revisit the death of Nikki LaDue. The following are some things they may consider. Re-interview Phil, the husband and recommend to him a polygraph. Re-interview the reporting party and recommend a polygraph. Interview Nikki’s son and consider hypnosis. Interview Phil’s son. Have a forensic blood pattern expert review the photos for a determination.”
So far, nothing has been done and despite all the inconsistencies, the Pass Christian police, the Harrison County Sheriff, the local district attorney and the Mississippi Attorney General all refuse or fail to even acknowledge that Nikki’s case deserves a closer look.
I will leave this story for now with this. I promise to continue to update Nikki’s story as more information becomes available. But I want to include just a couple more tidbits of information for you to consider. Here’s where you can move from being a casual reader to becoming an activist on Nikki’s behalf.
In the 911 call, Nancy Burge said, “I don’t know. I don’t know. … uhm, he came in tonight. (the) girl was supposed to move today. He hasn’t been able to get in touch with his wife.” She told the 911 operator that he, Phil, came in during the night. Remember this call took place close to 10 a.m. after Nikki’s was supposedly found. Phil claims he had just arrived.
The 911 operator notified officers that this was a suicide attempt. Yet no ambulance was dispatched. Amy Waring, Nikki’s friend contacted American Medical Response to enquire as to whether or not an ambulance was called to the scene of Nikki’s death. “I first asked to speak with Mr. John Rester, but he was out of town. The receptionist asked if she could take a message or transfer me to voicemail. I indicated the nature of my call and she transferred me to the records department. The records specialist asked for a name, date of birth and the specific date. I gave her the name of “Nichole January” and spelled it for her. I gave her Nikki’s birthday as “2-27-72″ and the date “July 29, 2002″. She found no record of an ambulance being called. She further indicated that if an ambulance was called it would certainly be documented even if the call was cancelled. She went on to say that the ambulance must go to any scene once it is called.”
Too many people know a lot about what happened. None are coming forward. Why?
You can do a couple of things. Make Nikki’s story go viral. Pick a blog post…any post…pick one that impacted you the most and send the link to 10 friends and have them send it to 10 and so on. No nonsense like you’ll have a bad day if you don’t or Bill Gates will donate a dollar…just send the link and a brief reason why this is important to you. Spreading the word is the best way to get government to react.
You can also write to the Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, recently in the news trying to clean up the mess left behind by former Governor Haley Barbour after he set loose several convicted murderers.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood
The motto on his website hopefully says it all. Jim Hood–Dedicated to Mississippi’s Families
Posted on January 28, 2012, in Cold Cases, Crime, Domestic Violence, Haley Barbour, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged Bonnie LaDue, Cold Cases, Gary Hargrove, Grand Casino, Haley Barbour, Mississippi, Murder, Nancy Burge, Nikki LaDue January, Pass Christian, pass christian mississippi, Phil January, Thomas Pustay. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.