Nearly 10 Years Later, More Questions than Answers in Nikki LaDue January Death


Pass Christian, Mississippi is a tiny town on the Gulf coast with a population of just over 6,500 in 2002. On average, the police department has had to deal with about 5 violent crimes a year with 4 of those being assaults. So, with so few major crime scenes, why is it so difficult to get straight and consistent answers on what happened July 29 when a 30-year-old vibrant mother was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head? Nikki LaDue January, the county coroner said, committed suicide. Yet no one who knew her well believes that–not her mother, not her husband, not her friends. The past decade has proved nearly fruitless for Nikki’s mother Bonnie LaDue who has done everything from hiring private investigators to exhuming her daughter’s body for the autopsy Coroner Gary Hargrove deemed unnecessary.

There’s no way around talking about a violent death without some graphic details. If you are squeamish, then now is a good time to stop and go someplace else.  I will only use minimal crime scene photos to illustrate a point but police reports and interviews with people who were there are needed for you to see how inconsistent police investigators have been when it comes to Nikki’s death. Why? We may never know. A cover-up? Perhaps, but of what? Lazy and sloppy police work? Definitely there but again, why? As I already said, violent crime was nearly non existent.  “Why” will be a common theme in Nikki’s story.

This is what is known. Nikki was found dead on the balcony of hers and Phil’s condo the morning of July 29, 2002. She had a single gunshot wound to the head. A Sterling .380 caliber pistol was found with Nikki. On the table in front of her were 2 packs of cigarettes. One was a brand she smoked, the other was not. Nikki’s 5-year-old-son Zack was in the apartment alone while his mother died on the balcony. All indications are she likely died around 1:45-2:00am that morning. She was found around 9am. Both the coroner and police investigators wrote this off to suicide and closed the case 2 hours after arriving on scene. No further official investigations have happened since.

So, who have I talked to? In the coming days you will hear first hand from Bonnie LaDue, Nikki’s mother; a police officer who was one of the first on the scene who recalled seeing alcohol on the table in front of Nikki. Certainly, it’s not in the crime scene photo. You will hear from Angelia Hursell, the babysitter who knows when Nikki left her home the night before she died–critical information when you hear about the phone calls made to and by Nikki from her condo that night. You will hear from Phil January, Nikki’s husband who has been vilified mostly on the internet by people who believe he knows more than he’s been saying. You will also see police reports that contradict what others saw and did that horrible day.

The purpose behind all this? I’m not trying to solve Nikki’s case. Apologies to my high school English teacher but I ain’t that good. All anyone wants is for authorities to re-look this case. Sure, many will say it’s common for loved ones to say a suicide victim couldn’t have done that to themselves…that’s what the Pass Christian police told the family. But I truly believe, after reading hundreds of pages, talking for hours to various people and coming to know Nikki myself, this was not a suicide. I’ve got no dog in the race or whatever that expression is. Nikki LaDue January deserved better than what investigators did, or rather didn’t do. Soon, you will see why.

Up next…Nikki’s mother, Bonnie LaDue.

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Posted on November 19, 2011, in Cold Cases, Crime, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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