All American Girl Lived Life to its Fullest–Nikki LaDue January
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I think it’s very important, especially for those who did not know her personally, to have a complete picture of who exactly Nikki LaDue January was. There’s been a lot written about her focusing on her death and what can only be described as a Keystone Kop investigation. We will get to that. I believe Nikki was a victim. But I’d like you to meet Nikki as a person.
Windswept snow swirled in the tiny town of Angelica, New York on February 27, 1972. The winds howled and the temperatures dropped to just 10 degrees. It was the kind of day where you just wanted to stay home. Nikki had other plans. Bonnie LaDue was in labor. Just past her 19th birthday, this day of all days she would have hers and husband Terry’s first child. Facing the snow and ice, Bonnie and Terry made their way to Hornell where their hospital was. And the waiting began. Nikki wouldn’t come easy. After 12 hours of hemming and hawing, Nichole Lynne LaDue entered the world–a world she would leave a lasting impression on.
“From the day she was born, Nikki drew people to her,” Bonnie said. “Everyone loved her. As a toddler walking downtown with her parents, kids from across the street would shout her name. She was the type of child who loved everyone and would go up to strangers with her arms raised to be picked up.” Bonnie said she was able to teach Nikki about the whole stranger danger thing.
Growing up, she had a laid back personality and very much lived in the moment. She was in this world for a good time. After 5 years as the LaDue’s only child, Nikki’s sister Meredith was born. Oh this didn’t sit very well with Princess Nikki! No sir. Her kingdom was being invaded by this tiny little thing who was getting a lot of attention. Once she realized this creature wasn’t going away, she grew to love her little sister. And when the time came, she happily accepted another sister into her little world, Amanda. Living in the moment. That was Nikki.
Soon, Nikki became a teenager. Couple that with it being the 80’s things got a little tougher for mom and dad. Her mother said she became a bit more “willful.” She was a social butterfly more interested in being with friends and having a good, no great time than sitting in a class room learning about things like trig and chemistry. She had the “big hair” going and knew how to work a can of hair spray. Still she worked in the family store and showed her school spirit by cheerleading for the Red Raiders. Family friend Bette Hayes remembers her as the All American Girl. “She was funny, very intelligent, humble, a talented pianist, warm, popular, strikingly beautiful, and genuine. We loved her like our own child. She warmed my heart.”
One of Nikki’s dearest friends summed her up well in a tribute she wrote in 2007. “Our fun usually consisted of tanning, cruising around, talking, doing nails, getting dressed in general, coloring hair, jamming to music, prank calling, skinny dipping, cooking, fishing, re-arranging, trading clothes, looking at the Victoria’s Secret Catalogs and contemplating boob-jobs, smoking, drinking wine, and going out for the occasional gala,” Amy Russell Waring said. “Sometimes we would get dressed with no place to go. We loved products and loved to test them. I remember she came home one day with a bag full of products that her stylist gave her that clients had returned over time. He did not return them to the vendors in time so he gave them to her – he loved her, of course. She dumped the bag out onto the bathroom vanity as if it was mine and hers – and it was. This was how she was.”
After high school, Nikki went to college in Buffalo. She wanted to study criminal justice. Instead she lasted about 10 weeks and joined the social scene. The freedom of being on her own was just too great. After withdrawing from school she found a job and stayed in the Buffalo area. Eventually she moved to Olean, New York where she met Mike Williams, one of her downstairs neighbors. It wasn’t long before the casino craze in southern Mississippi came calling. The Grand Casino had just opened in Gulfport, Mississippi and with a promise of good money in a great area, Nikki and Mike made the move south. It turned out, she would be very successful in the casino starting out as a dealer. In 1994 they got married and less than 3 years later, Nikki gave birth to their son Zack. Nikki was made for a lot of things. Mothering was top of the list. She adored Zack even while he kicked and tumbled in her womb. When he was born, there was nothing more important than her little boy. She only wished Mike could be the same. The casino lifestyle was ingrained in Mike and he just wasn’t ready to be a father. Nikki thought a move to Southern Florida away from the casino life and people would be a better environment for her young family. They packed up and left Mississippi for a fresh start. It didn’t help. “Nikki told me several times that she didn’t think her marriage would work out,” Bonnie said. “Mike was just too irresponsible at the time.” Eventually, they returned to where the work was–Mississippi. They divorced in 1999. Nikki was devastated. She did not like to fail and her break-up with Mike was tough. But they remained close. They had to. Both still worked in the same casino. The same place she would soon find her dream man…someone who could be a father figure to Zack. Someone who she could grow old with. She met Phil January. The century was about to turn to 2000 and things were looking good. Nikki LaDue had just over 2 years left to live.
Next up…Phil January enters Nikki’s and Zack’s lives.
If you have a Nikki story, please post them in the comments. The world needs to know her better.
Posted on November 12, 2011, in Cold Cases, Crime, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged angelica new york, keystone kop, ladue, Nikki LaDue January, stranger danger, town of angelica. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.