Nikki LaDue Tries Anew–Marries Phil January

Disclaimer: These posts are meant to be interactive. You can read and surf away if you want. Or you can participate. Read carefully about what is said or is claimed to be known. And then weigh in. Your words could have the power to solve these mysteries that continue to torment the families and friends of the victims. Feel free to pass this blog along.

Nikki and Phil January

Near the end of 1999, Nikki LaDue found her knight in shining armor. Working on the floor of the Grand Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi, she would occasionally have to deal with an unruly gambler. When that happened, she’d call security. That’s how she met security manager Phil January. But at the same time, she also fighting demons no one could fight. Nikki was addicted to pain pills. She hid this well from her friends and family. Drugs were easy to come by at the Grand. In fact more than once, there were internal investigations that tried to break up an Oxy-ring. People lost their jobs but the drugs continued to flow.

But Nikki had apparently found happiness with Phil who was 16 years older than her. Or so people thought. I hope to be speaking to Phil later this week to get his side of things.

They married in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2000. While Phil did make a good first impression with his new in-laws, Nikki’s mother Bonnie was concerned. “I was very surprised she was jumping into this too quickly,” she said. Her divorce from Mike Williams was just about a year old and her relationship with Phil a bit more than 8 months old. “Nikki and I were really tight,” Bonnie said. “I felt there was something ‘off’ with her the day she got married. I felt sure she was doing something she didn’t want to do.”

Thanksgiving, 2001. This was the last time Nikki’s family saw her alive. Bonnie was worried. Nikki always was very conscious about her appearance. But that November day, things were much different. “She looked horrible. She was haggard and thin. Her face looked drawn.” And there was another sign something was wrong. “Zack was a very spoiled boy and Nikki was not much of a disciplinarian. He was prone to fits and tantrums. When they came that Thanksgiving, he wasn’t the same. It was like he just got out of boot camp.”

But it was during this holiday that Bonnie began to suspect Nikki had an addiction. “She and her sister set it up so that Nikki would surprise me by coming a day earlier than expected. When I opened the door she threw herself on me and we both fell to the floor. I broke a couple of ribs and was prescribed pain pills. That week, Nikki complained of a toothache and asked if she could take one of my pills. I said yes. Later she asked a second time. When they left, the bottle of pills was gone. I called her and asked why she took them. She denied it. I let it go.”

In the final year of her life, Nikki was said to be living under the specter of Phil’s jealousy. Several friends said he tried to keep her on a short leash. A couple of people said he had “spies” keeping tabs on her. Once a very exuberant and vibrant woman, Nikki’s personality seemed to be changing. She became a loner and afraid to socialize with people. For some reason, the only person Phil would let her be friends with was Nancy Burge. Later, Nancy will play an integral role in the horrific day of July 29, 2002.

Up next, the “phone call from hell”


Posted on November 15, 2011, in Cold Cases, Crime, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I am not happy you are painting her with the broad brush of being an addict. Is that the demons you are speaking about?

    What evidence do you have that Nikki LaDue was addicted to drugs? She was never arrested, or tested. What physical evidence exists?

    What evidence is there she was involved in any oxy-ring? Or is this all just anecdotal hearsay and misdirection? The oxy-ring bust happened after her death with no evidence that she was involved.

    If I given two of my mother’s pain pills it doesn’t mean I’m an addict. It just means, as Nikki said, she was in pain. There is no evidence Nikki stole the pills.

    There is though evidence of Phil’s abusive treatment of Nikki – I look forward to hearing about that.

    I hate it when someone blames the victim when no facts are present.

    Even victims blame themselves, many ask why they weren’t good enough or why they married an abuser, or what they did to deserve the mistreatment they got.

    “But no one asked Holocaust survivors, ‘What brought you to this concentration camp?’ The blame for the abuse falls squarely on the shoulders of the abuser.” Or in this case, possibly the murderer.

  2. Please allow me to clarify my personal observations the last time I saw Nikki, Thanksgiving 2001, and what I meant when I said she looked ‘horrible’…not that she wasn’t beautiful and well groomed as always, she was. But she seemed so stressed and carrying some inner burden that was stealing her joy and exuberance…as well, she had lost at least ten pounds. At the time I was concerned but not overly…and I don’t recall much opportunity to speak with her privately since the whole family was home for the holiday and there just wasn’t time to interact one on one with any of them.
    After speaking to many of Nikki’s friends and colleagues after her death I reflected back to that Thanksgiving week, her weight loss, the crack in her armor, and the disappearance of my pain pills. I slowly began to understand the enormous effort Nikki had put forth to prevent her family from knowing the truth about her life with Phil. I believe now she was supremely unhappy and it took all she had to put up a brave front and keep that smile firmly in place…but it had dimmed slightly and I sensed something was off.
    To the commenter: I do think that Nikki had an addiction to pain pills, she told me so herself when she admitted to taking my pain meds. Is there physical proof of this? No. Do I think her reliance on pain medication led to her death? Not at all. Nor do I think it was even a factor. I also don’t believe that she was addicted to cocaine, as was told to the police by Phil and Nancy. What I do believe is that the pills provided her a coping mechanism for the misery her life had become and was a direct result of her inability to maintain equilibrium throughout the final hellish two years.
    As for blaming Nikki for her own death…please let’s not forget who has struggled and fought for the last nine years to learn the truth of what really happened to her. If I, for one second, had entertained any thoughts that she got her just dues, I would have walked away from the suicide verdict and moved on. Since I have never believed that Nikki took her own life, and since she had no advocate within law enforcement, it fell to me to search, hear and see things no mother should ever have to know. Nikki is not here to defend herself, thus I became her defender and her voice. Above all, I seek the truth and therefore must remain as objective a possible while sifting through the vast amounts of information collected over the years….official documents, written and spoken statements and crime scene photos.
    In defense of Cold No More blogger: He, along with you, me and quite a few others are ‘truth-seeker’s. Since hard cold facts where Nikki is concerned are scarce, we are all reduced to relying on the perceptions of individuals who knew Nikki, and in some instances incorporating hearsay as a means to an end. This is not done in a malicious way or to impugn Nikki’s character, but to draw a more definitive picture of the days leading up to and including her death. It is my hope these blogs will touch a nerve and someday someone will come forward with an undeniable fact that will force a full investigation into the murder of my beloved daughter.

    I am forever grateful to this writer and others who share my desire to know the truth. My motivations are complex but theirs, in a word is….justice. The time and effort required to absorb the intricacies of a nine year old murder are formidable yet they dive in with no expectations of reward. Thank you too, TruthSeeker, for your passion and defense of Nikki and victims in general.

  3. Truthseeker, I would love to disclose to you the extent of information found in this cold case investigation. But believe me, their is clear proof of a drug ring in the Grand Casino, THAN and NOW.

    Bonnie, all I can say is God bless you and the fact that you have persevered and continue to do so for the sake of your daughter, NIKKI LADUE.

    I would like to tell the writer of this article and all those who see this and others written about the travesty of justice this young woman suffered. Not as much in her life, although she was obviously unhappy in her marriage, but more so because our system of law fell below the “falling short” scenario. Nikki, as each person living in this country, deserve to have a proper investigation. In this case I can write volumes as to short comings these so called investigators conducted at this crime scene. Gun residue, blood splatter, ballistics, position of the body, hands and head of her body when they came on the scene. How about where the brass was found and the bullet, phone and 2 different packs of cigarettes on the table with blood on them??? AND MUCH MORE!!!


    Bonnie, I can only pray your tenacity pays off for the sake of you and your beautiful daughter Nikki.

  4. Excellent blog post, questions and answers. The interaction gives one a fuller and better perspective. I look forward to more post. Bonnie, you are an inspiration and I pray you find the answers you are looking for.

  1. Pingback: Bonnie LaDue Remembers the Months Leading to Nikki’s Death « Cold No More

  2. Pingback: A Catch-Up Post For the Nikki LaDue January Case « Cold No More

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