Three Men Who Let A Murderer Get Away
When Nikki LaDue January was murdered in 2002 the three men who could have put her killer away plain and simply didn’t do their job. Pathetically incompetent is probably a better way to put it. Her story is coming up but for now meet chief investigator Thomas Pustay. He was charged with investigating her death and quickly wrote it off to suicide. As you will see for yourself, not only was he wrong, he didn’t care. If you’d like to write him and ask him why, you can write him at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (Inmate # 129388) where he will be spending the rest of his life. Yes that’s right. While he was supposedly investigating Nikki’s death, he was sexually assaulting a family friend and had been doing so since she was 9.
Then there’s Harrison County Sheriff George Payne whose jurisdiction included Pass Christian where Nikki died. As of 2007 under his watch, his department was sued for more than half a billion dollars for claims including the wrongful death suit of Jesse Lee Williams Jr. who was beaten to death by Payne’s prison guards in 2006. He was finally forced out of office in 2008 and was immediately chased down by the state auditors after his successor found $21,000 of missing department equipment including guns, TVs, night vision goggles and a car. His incompetence was highlighted in a CNN story in 2007 following the suspicious deaths and serious injuries to a number of county jail inmates. Also spotlighted in that report is the third person who botched Nikki’s investigation.
The medical examiner’s job is to determine cause of death in violent and/or unexplained deaths. It was Harrison County Medical Examiner Gary Hargrove who ignored the evidence and determined, without an autopsy, that Nikki committed suicide. It’s not the first time his alleged incompetence has been questioned. Lee Demond Smith was another prisoner murdered in Sheriff Payne’s jail. Hargrove along with a forensic pathologist determined Smith died of a pulmonary embolism–a blog clot in the lung. Not trusting the authorities, Smith’s family spent $9000 for a private autopsy. And that forensic pathologist made a shocking discovery. He found the true cause of death was strangulation and Smith was being restrained while being strangled. Shocking but not the most shocking discovery. Hargrove claimed a blood clot in the lung killed Smith. To determine that, the lung would have had to have been dissected. The second autopsy found that the lung was never dissected. So how could Hargrove come up with his cause of death. When CNN asked him if he was involved in a coverup, he replied, “No, we’re not. I have not ever covered up a death and will not do it today or any other time. Because when it comes to that, it’s time to get out of the business.” Strange thing to say but maybe he’s right…it is time for him to get out of the business.
Posted on November 6, 2011, in Cold Cases, Crime, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged Cold Cases, Gary Hargrove, George Payne, Mississippi, Nikki LaDue January, Pass Christian, Thomas Pustay. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.