Piecing the Puzzle Together: Why Was Nikki LaDue January Murdered?


Nikki and son Zack

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 January

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.

Nancy Burge with Nikki. Supposedly Nikki's friend, she lied to police about the state of Nikki and Phil January's marriage. She of all people knew the truth. Why would she lie?

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

Jim@jimhood.org

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Let's do something!

    More from Jim Hood’s website to point in favor of justice for Nikki:

    ________________________________

    “Since his election in 2003, and earlier as a district attorney in North Mississippi, Attorney General Hood has consistently advocated for crime victims and worked to safeguard Mississippi’s most vulnerable citizens – children and the elderly. Now serving his second term in office, Attorney General Hood continues to implement new programs and to expand the successful initiatives begun during his first term.

    Attorney General Hood is a passionate champion of children. He has worked tirelessly to prevent children from being abused and exploited, and to rescue those who have already fallen prey to those who do them harm.”

    _________________________________

    A killer runs free on this man’s clock. I’m sending my email now. Please do the same. If anyone needs a template, I’m happy to post it. A few other people I recommend contacting are below.

    A few months ago I looked at the Harrison County website for elected officials and Hargrove’s term was to be up at the end of this year. Now the website shows his term is up at the end of 2015. How the hell he is still in office after the cover ups is more than I can wrap my thoughts around. I notice on the page Hargrove is responsible for “…investigating deaths to determine cause and manner”. Findings are then reported to the State Health Department, and the State Medical Examiner in Jackson, Ms.

    The big dog at the ME office is Dr. Erin Barnhart ebarnhart@mcl.state.ms.us. The job of the ME is to “assure all deaths which affect the public interest are properly investigated”. Obviously, Nikki’s MURDER was not and the public interest is affected considering a killer runs free. Is the report Hargrove provided (assuming he did) to the ME public record? The main number to the ME office is 601.987.1600.

    Next is the MBI, not to be mistaken for the FBI. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. Finding a number for these folks is damn near impossible. The main number to DPS (the parent agency) is 601.987.1212.

    I’m starting with Hood, then Barnhart, then the MBI and will post any responses here.

    • I sent an email to HOOD, copied the ME, and called the MBI.

      No response to my email. NOTHING. It’s been 3 days. Ok I’ll give them a little bit more time.

      Had to leave a message at the MBI office with a person. I have not received a return call. It’s been a day.

      Not a patient person at all and this is pissing me off – is classic fitting perfectly into the 9+ years of being ignored and brushed off by MS officials.

      Dropping a certified letter in the mail today. To be completely ignored really pisses me off……Imagine how Bonnie feels. 9 years.

      Be on the lookout for electronic petition.

  2. Just sent my letter to Hoods office!!!!!

  3. Just sent my letter to Hoods office!!!!! I hope everyone that knew Nikki will follow suit. This is such a travesty!

  4. There has been ongoing controversy, especially late 2010 and into 2011 b/c Mississippi lacked a reliable state medical examiner for a long time-years (Google MS sate medical examiner). For a while medical examiners in Alabama and Memphis reviewed Mississippi’s autopsy reports.
    Phil is a dirt bag, but I doubt he killed Nikki. He’s cruel to refuse a polygraph b/c it may give Nikki’s family peace of mind. As a parent he should understand. To his credit (and this isn’t saying too much) he didn’t pull a Nancy Burge, scamper off into hiding to pretend Nikki never happened. What little info Nancy provided left everyone with more questions. Her silence speaks volumes.
    I don’t know anyone involved. However, Amy is an example of a best friend-actively seeking answers, standing up for her friend, supporting and helping Nikki’s family with this jacked up lack of investigation. A stranger would be more cooperative than Nancy. What, short of guilt, could make an alleged best friend like Nancy ignore Nikki’s family?
    Outsider observations not trying to offend: It’s creepy that Phil approved of Nancy and encouraged Nikki to spend time with her. Is it possible Nancy was spying for Phil but fell in love with Nikki, who was miserable, vulnerable, scared. Maybe Nikki found comfort in Nancy’s advances and Nancy decided to hell with Phil. As moving day neared, things went south. And the day before, Nancy freaked b/c when Nikki wasn’t at her house but hanging out with a guy. Maybe Nancy heard a rumour (from Phil?) that Nikki would move to Bossier City. Something dampened Nancy’s loyalty and she went from best friend, helping Nikki move, meeting her family to a mute with amnesia.

    • You make an excellent point. Why did Phil “allow” Nikki to hang out with Nancy??? Nancy had her own issues so it cannot be that he saw Nancy as any different from others with issues, except Nancy didn’t do any drugs from what I understand. I know first had from Nancy she had(?) an issue with alcohol….and let’s not forget the extramarital lesbian affair. I am not judging as I am extremely gay friendly – I am just pointing out that Phil being the ignorant piece of shit that he is is very anti anything that doesn’t fit into his cookie cutter mold of what people should be. And the fact is she WAS married so why would Phil “let” Nikki hang out with a woman who was having an extramarital affair????

      After Nikki’s death, my new husband and I moved to MS to be there for Zack and help Mike on the weekends when he typically worked (casino schedule). I sent a letter to Nancy asking her pointed questions regarding Phil and Nikki’s relationship. She called and wanted to meet me. We scheduled lunch within a day or two. I sat through lunch with her sobbing and trying to convince me their relationship was perfect. Looking back on this day, she was doing everything in her power to clear Phil of any suspicion. Was this because she was guilty of something???

      Nancy step up!!!!! I know you are reading this. I know you are! YOUR “BEST FRIEND” was MURDERED!!!!!! You were closest to her at the time of her death. You know something. STEP UP!!!! It’s not too late to be a friend. YOU know what happened.

      • Unless she’s a psychopath she felt guilty and hoped meeting you would cleanse her conscience. It might have if she’d told the truth-instead the script about their perfect relationship, knowing you knew better. Yet she needs a script because what info she’s provided is suspicious-the peculiar b-s about leaving for Nikki’s but turning around even though she felt something was wrong!!
        It’s also extremely likely that she was trying to find out if Zach had talked to anyone about what happened that night.
        And this sobriety thing. The non-users and sober people I know would rather eat glass than go out to clubs and hang out w/ party people. Yet she was with Nikki the night Phil “discovered” the drug problem?

  5. Surely there is an attorney out there reading this that can answer the question – what would it take to get the cause of death changed from “suicide” to “unknown”?

    That seems a simple goal to attain.

    It seems to me that if the cause of death could be changed, then other steps could be taken – perhaps even in civil court.

    Surely the MS government is not so corrupt that we can not agree on the fact that this is not a clear-cut case of suicide.

  6. I have seen several suicides in my time, but never where the person shot themself in the head and fold their hands on their stomach AFTER the weapon falls between their legs!. Also IF Nikki had the telephone in her hand, was there any blowback on the phone since the
    phones appears to have blood on the handset? From the one crime scene photo I saw, I
    could see lividity on her legs which appeared to be somewhat strange.How long did they say she was dead? This death is very suspicious as all believe and does not make sense for it to be called a suicide!!!???? I would love to read her Autopsy Report and see the Crime Scene photos. I smell a “rat” here!

  7. Phil January now lives in Maine and works as head of security for the oxford casino. ive met the man on multiple occasions and at one point caught wind of this story, never thought it would be true.

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