July 29: Nikki LaDue January is Found
Not much is known about the Nikki LaDue January’s final day. But Nikki’s mom Bonnie LaDue went to Mississippi to try to talk to her friends. So based on her own investigation, and interviews from others, here is what we know.
Despite telling Angelia Hursell, the woman who was babysitting Nikki’s son Zack on July 28 that she was going to be busy packing, she was actually with some friends. Among those friends was Eric Hunsicker, a man she knew for just about a week. Eric said Nikki picked him up around noon that day and they drove around listening to CD’s. After a while she told him “I gotta get back to the house.” They both went to Nikki and her husband Phil January’s condos where Eric said he saw boxes all over the place. Nikki told him they were moving to Shreveport and that Phil just got a good paying job there. Eric said he heard Phil was mean and that he was abusive. But, he told Nikki she should try out Shreveport even if just for the sake of her son. After spending a short time in the condo, Nikki and Eric headed out again to a local bar called the Sugar Mill. According to Eric, they hung out for a couple of hours talking. Nikki just had a beer and a mixed drink. After that they made a quick stop at Eric’s apartment to meet some of his friends and then went to a sports bar for a couple of hours. Around 7 p.m., Nikki said she had to make a phone call. She used a pay phone to call Phil. When she returned, Eric said she was very nervous and that Phil was mad at her. She told him she had to leave. If you recall, Phil said he had been trying to get ahold of her all day and didn’t talk to her until 11:07 p.m. that night. She also told Eric she would be back in town the following Monday and that perhaps they could hang out again. Nikki left but where she went is unknown. She did go to Angelia’s at 10:30 p.m. to pick up Zack and was likely home by 11 p.m. Between 11:07 p.m. and 1:40 a.m. she and Phil exchanged at least 27 phone calls. There was an argument about where Nikki had been during the day. Phil said she seemed under the influence. Angelia, who saw her last at about 10:50 p.m. disagreed. “She and I spoke for a good 20 minutes before she left. She didn’t seem drugged up or intoxicated. I wouldn’t let her drive away if that were the case.” During the phone calls between Nikki and Phil, “there was a lot of stuff,” he said. But in the final call he said Nikki told him she loved him and he told her, “we’ll get through this.” Nikki also made a call to Eric shortly after 1 a.m. “She called me and was trying to talk to me basically saying, ‘if my husband ever finds out about you and me hanging out, you deny you knew anything about me,'” Eric said. “She sounded very nervous but I was watching a movie and I asked if I could call her tomorrow. I feel terrible about it. I just cut her short.”
In the week leading up to this, Nikki was staying at her friend Nancy Burge’s house overnight. Every night that week. On Saturday night when Nancy came home from work, Nikki and Zack weren’t there. She said she was worried because she received a call from Phil earlier that night looking for Nikki so she started to drive to the condo. But for some reason, 10 or 15 minutes into the drive, she turned around and came home.
At this point I need to take you on a little diversion and it has to do with Nancy. Nancy Burge was married and had children. At the same time, she was involved with a woman named Catherine Pierocich. Catherine was very jealous of Nikki and Nancy’s friendship. In fact, she felt like a jilted lover and sent Nikki a letter saying as much. Keep that in the back of your mind. And then there’s this. Diane Morgan, a friend and co-worker of Nikki’s told a private investigator that Nikki was crying one day and told her that “Phil threatens me” and that “Phil leaves post-it notes in every cabinet in the condo saying I’m a piece of shit and a slut.” Justine Wheeler, another friend and co-worker of Nikki’s told the PI that Nikki had a fight with Phil by telephone the Saturday before her death. She added that Nikki was afraid of Phil and that he had a bad temper. Terri Warren, a friend and former supervisor of Nikki said Nikki was afraid of Phil and on several occasions sent her home because the couple had fought and Nikki was too distraught to work. Alan Prince, who was Phil’s former supervisor and his friend said Phil would call and check on who Nikki was hanging out with. Now back to Nancy. She had told people she was Nikki’s best friend. Bonnie, Nikki’s mom said Nikki told her Nancy was her best friend. Yet when asked by the PI how Nikki and Phil’s relationship was, she said it was “wonderful,” which is how Phil explained his marriage to me. Somebody in this group of people is not being truthful.
Sometime around 9:30 a.m. on the morning of July 29, Nancy Bruge went to Nikki’s condo. Nikki, Zack and Nancy were going to go to Florida for a few days to spend time with Nikki’s family. The plan was for them to go to Florida and Phil and his son Matt would drive the U-Haul with their belongings to Boosier City. After knocking on the door, Nancy was let into the condo by Zack. He told her his mommy was sleeping. Nancy searched the apartment but couldn’t find Nikki. The apartment is not that big and the sliding glass door to the balcony is easily visible. Nancy knew based on her several visits to Nikki that she liked to spend time on the balcony. Yet Nancy did not look there. Shortly after Phil arrived in the parking lot. Nancy came out and told him she couldn’t find Nikki. “I said she’s got to be there, her car is here,” Phil said. “So we went inside. Zack was in his room playing a video game and I started walking through the house. I walked into our bedroom and on the bed was all of our clothes all folded up and ready to be packed. After checking the bathroom I walked back and noticed the glass door to the patio was open about a foot. And so I opened the door and stepped out there and that’s when I saw her. The phone was laying on her stomach. I reached over and picked up the phone and clicked it on to call 911 but it was dead. My son was at the other end of the condo near the front door and I hollered at him to call 911. His phone was a Dallas phone and I think at that time when you call 911 from your cell phone it went to wherever you lived. Nancy had already taken Zack outside. This is a curious thing that Matt told me later. He said that when Nancy saw me starting to go toward the patio, she grabbed Zack and headed out the door. Maybe she had already seen Nikki. I don’t know. Matt went outside and told Nancy to call 911. They both knocked on doors trying to use someone’s phone to call 911.”
Phil continued, “Officer Willie Davis was the first on the scene. I really didn’t talk to him much to be honest. And if I did, I don’t remember much. I told him what was going on, where she was and he asked me to go downstairs and I did. There were others who came but I don’t remember how many or the time frame. It’s all kind of blurry after seeing that.”
Nikki’s death was quickly ruled a suicide by the police investigators and the coroner. “All I knew is my wife was gone,” Phil said.
Did Nikki kill herself? “Absolutely not,” Angelia said. “When she left to go home with Zack, she was fine.This is a woman who would never put her child in harm’s way. Why would she come and pick him up from me, where he was perfectly fine, and take him home and kill herself? Why wouldn’t she just go home and do it? Nikki adored that baby. And to see those two together, she almost turned into a kid when she was with Zack. She was a really great mother.”
Nikki’s story is far from over…coming up, the lack of investigation and Nikki’s parents are told the horrible news.
Posted on November 22, 2011, in Cold Cases, Crime, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged Bonnie LaDue, Cold Cases, Grand Casino, ladue, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January, Pass Christian, Phil January, Suicide. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.