Phil January Interview with PI (Part 4 of many)
Back to the interview Phil January gave to a Private Investigator back in April 2003. His wife Nikki had been dead for 10 months, ruled a suicide by the Pass Christian, Mississippi police and Harrison County coroner. Keep in mind there was no investigation, no autopsy and all the circumstances surrounding her death, a single gunshot wound to the head, were suspect at best. In the minds of everyone except the authorities this was a murder. Her husband was in the process of driving back from Louisiana where he had just started a new job. Nikki was supposed to have been packing up in preparation for their move. However, several people have said Nikki had no intention of moving. Her plan was to let Phil think she was moving, take a planned trip to visit her family in Florida with her 5-year old son Zack and the person she thought was her best friend Nancy Burge. When Phil arrived to their condo on July 29, 2002 he found Nancy in the there telling him she couldn’t find Nikki. Phil found her dead on the couple’s balcony. For more details, refer to this posting that chronicles everything from Nikki’s early life to her death. Nikki’s mom hired a private investigator to look into Nikki’s case. As part of that investigation, he interviewed Phil. Here is part 4 of that interview transcribed by a friend of Nikki’s mother Bonnie.
PI: To your knowledge when you were in Shreveport was Nikki staying exclusively with Nancy? Or was she staying off and on in the condo? Uhh..
Phil: It was my understanding that she was staying exclusively her and Zack were staying at Nancy’s.
PI: She was staying at Nancy’s.
Phil: And the only night I know of that she wasn’t at Nancy’s was the last night. In fact I asked her that night specifically on the phone call, one of the phone calls toward the end, when things had settled down, “Are you and Zack going back over to Nancy’s tonight?” Her response to me was “No, Zack and I want to be here when you get here in the morning.”
PI: OK. And when you were – and how long were you in Shreveport without Nikki?
Phil: Well, we went up on the 12th (July), Nikki and I. She drove me up there that was a Friday. We stopped uh at the casino for a couple of hours then we went on to Dallas. Uh, Fort Worth. Actually North Richland Hills to to my brother’s house where my mother, my daughter, my son, my two brothers, all we all met up over there we went to dinner. We stayed there that night and then we drove another car back so we brought back separate cars on the 13th which was Saturday. Then Nikki and Zack – Nikki had to come back to work on – Then Nikki had to go to work Sunday night, so her and Zack left Sunday morning, got home, she went to work, she worked Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, and then Wednesday she picked Zack up and they came back up t– up to Shreveport. And they were there Wednesday. They got there I want to say it was about 5, 6 o’clock. I can’t remember. Her driving in, it was… Anyway, um.
PI: So for- so it was basically about just two weeks?
Phil: Yeah it was exactly two weeks. That was the whole thing is she gave them (Grand Casino where she worked) two weeks notice so that’s why there was the two weeks in there. She gave two weeks notice at the Grand. And she wanted to work it out. But she came up there on that Wednesday which would be the 17th and she was supposed to go back on Friday. And Friday morning I woke woke up and I asked her I said well why don’t you call in and stay another day? And so she – I had – I had to go get a post office box, umm, so that I could give them an address umm there where where pay check and so I went and got a post office box and when I came back she was sitting on the bed with a grin on her face and I said “You called in, didn’t you?” and she said “yeah”. So, then they got up and left about 9 o’clock Saturday morning.
PI: OK. In that two-week span, was – were you finding that she was – uhh, not where she was supposed to be?
Phil: I – No.
PI: Were you keeping tabs on her at all?
Phil: (gasp) No. (indistinguishable)
PI: Were you , like allowing anybody else – No?
Phil: No. No. No. No. I had talked to Alan (head of security at the Grand Casino) early on when all this happened I wanted to make sure that Nikki wasn’t still hanging out with the same people and and Alan assured me that that after after that, they had pretty much ostracized her too. Umm I know that there were quite a few of them that that basically told her “Don’t rat the rest of us out.” So Alan said most of the time she would sit by herself on breaks. She didn’t sit with anybody after that.
PI: So you would check with Alan from time to time, or he would call you up and let you know?
Phil: We would just talk I mean Alan and I talked all the time because she would usually call me, she always called me on her breaks, and she would say “Alan just came by and he said he’s going to call you later.”
PI: And – did you ever have uh – with her – with suspicions of – of and I you know had written a letter – she alludes to uh I’m not a whore-
Phil: With that? That was because when she came clean with me that morning, she told me (ring) at home that she had taken Danny some place over in Biloxi, and he paid her $50 for it. And I said, “Well the guy will pay you $50 to drive him over there” Well then later on after all the drug thing comes out that’s why she alludes to that in the letter. Because I said “What do you mean? He pays you $50 for what?” I said , and then I, I basically said the same thing I, I said earlier about my old fashion thinking is: married women don’t go to bars. If they’re going to bars, they’re going for one reason. Now, if if that’s what you – I and I – we had had this discussion previously. Now look, if you don’t want to be married, that’s fine. But you can’t be married and act single with the other girls. So that’s what she’s alluding to in there.
PI: Did you ever have her followed, anybod- when you were at Day Detective services (after working at the Grand Casino in security, Phil worked for a private detective service in the area.)
PI: No? Never any inclination to have her checked up on?
Phil: I had no reason to. There was some times after she came clean, that she would stop by, and she would say that she was going to her AA meeting, and I would go by and check and her car would be there. I – if anybody checked up on her, I did personally a couple of times. But you know what? She gained my trust back. When she told me where she was going to be I never had any reason to doubt her after that.
PI: She worked – she worked with you at Day Detective uh Service for a while?
Phil: She she did s- a little work because Amy (Amy Weaver was a Day Detective agency office worker) was there and Amy went out on pregnancy leave, so she would come in and and helped out, because there was just two of us.
PI: What do you think happened to her? Do you do you do you think she committed suicide?
Phil: Nikki would never have done that because of Zack if for no other reason.
PI: And do you – who in your mind – and you’ve had a lot of time to mull this over – who in your mind would do something like this?
Phil: Well eh eh..
PI: Paul Morrell? Do you think Paul Morrell? (Paul Morrell was the owner of the couple’s condo. It’s said he was heavy into the drug scene and had exhibited an infatuation with Nikki)
Phil: I think Paul Morrell may have had som- and I found out more reasons why he would have after the fact, but I know that –
PI: What reasons would he have?
Phil: Money, drugs.
PI: Not Nikki’s money.
Phil: No, but he was going to have to give us our deposit back. Um, and I think – and one of the things that she was supposed to be doing was to check with him about getting our deposit before she went to Florida.
PI: You don’t think he murdered her for her deposit though, do you? Seeing that his his I guess his folks take care about everything –
Phil: Well yeah but Paul was always I mean talking about being broke and not having any money and this and that. I I I don’t know why Paul would do it or anything like that, uh, I just know he had the opportunity because he’s put himself in the condo that night.
PI: Now – in talking about that. You talked to Zack.
Phil: I asked him I said uh “ Was, was there anybody here with Mommy that last night?” see, at first he said “no”. I said “Mommy didn’t have any friends here?” He said “Well, yeah.” And I said “Who?” I said “Did you know them?” And he said “Yeah.” And then he told me wha- he said “It was Paul.” He went on to tell me that Mommy was drinking a beer, and Paul was drinking a coke. So I find it hard to believe that he made that up. I mean he was pretty specific about that part of it. I remember seeing I remember seeing a 7-Up can on the counter. We neither one drink 7-up.
PI: So and Zack told you told you this this pretty much immediately after –
Phil: No. I I didn’t get to see , after that morning, I didn’t see Zack again until after I came down and met Bonnie and them. So it was Septem- in later in September. Nobody had asked Zack anything. He told – he went on to tell me that the music was really loud and that it went off.
PI: Did he remember and – of course, considering the child’s age – did he remember a time, approximate time – did you ask him an approximate time?
Phil: No. He didn’t have any idea. I did ask him if if Paul was there when I was talking to mommy on the phone. And he said yes. I said how do you know? He said “Because Mommy was standing in my room talking on the phone to you one time.” (Phone records indicate Nikki died shortly after talking with Phil. Sometime between 1:30a-2:30a).
PI: And he was awake.
Phil: Yeah. He was – she was in his room.
PI: Alright and uh so that that is what uh Zack stated. OK. Uh… why do you feel Paul uh.. do you know anything that would lead you to believe, other than the deposit, that Paul would have any reason to…
Phil: The counselor that I saw when I first got up there uh – she works with the Shreveport police department, uh, not Shreveport but Bossier City. I, I, I, well maybe Shreveport too. I don’t know. What I was telling her about all this, her first inclination was that Nikki had had possibly been killed because of information that she had about the drug situation down there. And people were afraid that once she got up there and away from down here that she would tell me information that I would probably take action on. Not me per se but to make phone calls.
PI: Do you think Paul was in the loop?
Phil: Oh Paul was a druggie. I knew that all along. I – I didn’t like Paul from the start and I told Nikki that. I never saw Paul when I thought he wasn’t high.
PI: Do you have knowledge that uh you or Nikki uh had seen Paul within that year more than three times? Have you see- have you-I mean when you come and go, would you would you know knowledge of either Nikki seeing Paul, or you guys both seeing Paul, or…
Phil: Well I know that he came over to Zack’s birthday party which was in February, and then I know they was they were trying to show the condo. I know there were phone calls because of that but usually it was Karen (Paul’s mother and also owner of the condo) making the phone calls. Um I don’t know if Paul ever came over there that that I didn’t know about. Um And then Nikki would see them sometimes I think when she would drop off the the the rent check. Um and then I know of a couple of times where she said that she – you know – talked to Paul for a few minutes when she dropped off the check. But later, since then I have found out and of course this is from the OTHER Amy, that was – damn. I don’t even know – Waring (Nikki’s friend) supposedly Paul had supplied her and Nikki lots of drugs in the past. So I don’t know that first hand, because she never told – Nikki never told me that. Um, but that’s what Amy says.
Up Next….Who else does Phil think could have killed Nikki?
Posted on December 12, 2011, in Cold Cases, Crime, Nikki LaDue January and tagged Bonnie LaDue, Cold Cases, Gary Hargrove, Grand Casino, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January, Pass Christian, Phil January, Suicide, Thomas Pustay. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.