Phil January Interview with PI (Part 8 of many)

Nikki and Zack

Now to Part 8 of 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.  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. Today, Phil talks about finding Nikki’s body on the couple’s balcony. After he and Nancy Burges, Nikki’s closest friend, searched the condo looking for her, Phil said he noticed the balcony door was ajar.

Phil: The blinds were open enough that you – that I could – when when I noticed the door open, you couldn’t see anything from where where I found her the blinds covered her unless you stood at the door and looked.  And you could look around the blinds somewhat. But you couldn’t have seen ’em walking – like like, when I walked that way I didn’t even notice the door being open at first.

PI:  And Nikki being a smoker, she- did-, did she ever smoke inside or always always on the patio?

Phil: No she smoked inside, too. But she was smoking outside. I I could hear her outside on the patio in some of our phone conversations (the night she died). And the reason I could tell that is, because of the highway noise.

PI: And Nancy probably knew that fact also, I would imagine.

Phil: Uh Yeah I would think I mean we spent a lot of time out on the patio. On the balcony. We called that the balcony. We spent a lot of time on the balcony.

PI: And do you find it incredible that Nancy would look everywhere-

Phil: Yeah. No, it –

PI: -and then not look on the balcony?

Phil: -It didn’t happen.

PI: Yeah. I agree. So, you see it’s ajar.

Phil: And as I go to go out it I can see Nikki’s leg. You know, and and that and my first thing was as I opened the door and looked, she looks like she she looked like I thought the first thing I thought was she had fallen asleep out there. Until I actually saw her. And you’ve seen the pictures so you know what I saw.

PI: Right. Um And you tried to pick up the pho- you picked up the phone at that point?

Phil: I picked up the phone off

PI: Where was Nancy at this point? You know –

Phil: My son says Nancy shagged ass out the door with Zack.

PI: You mean she came she came up after you?

Nancy Burge with Nikki

Phil: She did not come up after me. She followed me into Zack’s room and stopped according to Matt. Matt followed me to the bar or the counter of the kitchen. But I know when I walked into Zack’s room Nancy walked behind me but m- my son tells me that Nancy didn’t go any further than that. Didn’t go any further than that. And he came to the, to there was a counter, from the kitchen that goes into the dining room. He was there because I remember when I turned back to ask them to get some help he was standing there and he says when he turned – my cell phone wouldn’t call 911 from there. It would have called 911 Shreveport. His cell phone would call 911 Burkburnett or Wichita Falls. Cause he’s living in Dallas but his cell phone number is still a Wichita Falls cell number. So we had no choice. So anyway, Matt says that he he tells me this he turns around and he goes and starts pounding on doors. Well there’s nobody there. Everybody was gone.

PI: At this point you knew she was dead.

Phil: I said we needed help. Yeah I knew she was dead.

PI: Did you take her pulse or anything like that – you just you,

Phil: I saw the condition of her body.

PI: You didn’t touch her.

Phil: I didn’t have to touch her.

PI: And did Nancy ever look out at the patio? Did she ever look out?

Phil: No. Not while I not not not while I was there. She never even came to that end of the house or the condo while I was there. My son never saw her either.

PI: And your son never saw her either so you were the only one. And the only people went to see in were yourself, Matt, Nancy and Zack.

Phil: Mmhmm

PI: OK. And So. Nancy – did you tell her to get Zack out, or what, what –

Phil: No she was already leaving. I already said we needed help somebody call 911 we need some help. I need some help. And then I couldn’t tell if they were doing anything so I walked back to the other end of the condo, walked out on the front porch, and Nancy was down by the entrance on the phone, and I hollered at her or something, and she said they’re on their way. So I went back inside and then Sargent Davis showed up and told me I had to – he said you already know the deal he said you can’t be in here you need to leave.

PI: And so he, so he asked you to leave. He asked you to go downstairs.

Phil: Mmhmm. Then and then a black uniformed patrolman showed up. I remember he was the second one there.

PI: Do you recall, Phil, how many police officers?

Phil: I remember seeing three I think counting Sargent Davis.

PI: Uh, any detectives?

Phil: The only person I saw that came and talked to me that was not in a uniform was Hargrove (Gary Hargrove, the county coroner).

PI: Hargrove. And he talked to you.

Phil: Twice.

PI: Talked to you twice. And uh he did he say, immediately, I mean, suicide? Did he say “this is a suicide”?

Phil: No he didn’t say –

PI: Did he say anything?

Phil: No. Nobody did originally. They came back down. Uh I actually think it was Davis that asked me if there were any problems and this and that. And I told him that you know that she came clean about drugs and that that I had a suspicion that she might have been taking some drugs last night. And then Hargrove comes back down, my son had walked over, because Matt all this time still doesn’t know what’s happening. He has taken Zack now and turned his pickup back around so that its facing away from the ambulances, no there was no ambulance, the the firetrucks and police cars, so he’s entertaining Zack, and he’s got him facing opposite of of the where people would be coming in and the police officers and all this and that.

PI: He didn’t know she was dead at this point? Matt didn’t?

Phil: He knew she was dead. He knew by me that she was dead but he didn’t never see her. So he happens to walk up about the time Hargrove does. The second time. And Hargrove looks at me and says “is she was she right handed or left handed”? And I said she’s right handed. He looked at me and said “It’s suicide and they found a note.” All just because I just answered the question she was right handed.

PI: And what was the time span?

Phil: 30 minutes. Third time he got there –

PI: Well I mean the time span from when you discovered her, until Hargrove turned to you “Suicide. We found the note.”

Phil: (sighs) Less than an hour. Cause they were done and out of there in an hour and a half.

Lead investigator Thomas Pustay who later was convicted of sexual abuse of a child

PI: Never saw uh Pustay? (Detective Thomas Pustay, the investigating detective who says he talked to Phil at the condo)

Phil: Never saw him.

PI: I mean you wouldn’t –

Phil: I wouldn’t know him if he walked in here right now.

PI: Heavy set guy. Probably uh, maybe an inch or two taller than me. Very, very heavy.

Phil: Actually uh no. That’s the first even description I’ve ever got of him. I don’t remember anybody even looked like that there. I’m sure he probably was. I’m not saying he wasn’t there. But he didn’t ever talk to me.

PI: Did you see any plain clothes guys there? At all?

Phil: Hargrove.

PI: Hargrove was the only one you saw?

Phil: Hargrove was the only one I remember. That was not into any uniform. Either either EMS, firefighters, or or police uniform.

PI: And he didn’t give you any indication when he got that note. Or you didn’t know anything about that note at that point.

Phil: No I did because he said they found a note. I assumed maybe it blew off, if if he was tell me a suici- maybe it blew off the balcony. But there was no note inside. I mean there was nothing inside. And there was no note on the table. I remember exactly what was on the table. I didn’t have to study. I remember definitely. It’s going to be with me for the rest of my life.

Coming up…What Phil saw on the balcony



Posted on January 13, 2012, in Cold Cases, Crime, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What? Pustay signed all the crime scenen photos and Phil never left there. He couldn’t have missed him. His friends came over and scrubbed the “Balcony” down. His son wipes clean the computer? Why? The note referred to is 3 months old. No sure who wrote it. Let alone print a copy in the midst of packing.

    Maybe the police would want to look and see when the note was printed, when it was written, the date and ownership.

    So Phil the SWAT Team officer doesn’t even ask to talk to the detective in charge except much later through the mail and by phone. After he could have tampered with the scene and he talks about drugs right away to the coroner.

    If I had a loved one who was possibly taking drugs with her son home I’d call a friend at least, to go help her.

    The drug test gives no levels, what kind of test is that?

    I also find it odd Phil worked security at the Grand and the at Day Detective and he never met the infamous Tom Pustay? The “Good” detective?

    I thought I read the police were just doen the road from them. Oh and for the record. The Condo is in a horseshoe layout made out of concrete. It’s earily quiet and calm inside the pool area. All this talk about Highway noise. I don’t buy. The Condo is way out there away from the action. Even the Walmart on the edge of town is closer to Casinos then they are.
    Check Google earth you won’t see many cars unless it’s Mardi Gras. July is HOT that time of year.

    Didn’t logical engineer refer to the weather that night. It would be hot on that patio even at night.

    Does Phil say you wouldn’t be able to see them talk or walk on the patio with the blinds down. Interesting remark – sounds like he has spied on Nikki before on the “Balcony”

    The arrangement of the furniture was pushed all the way to the side as if to be on lookout or stay away from the door opening.

    Why would Pjil can Frank Brown before calling 911. Anyone knows you just tell operator where you’re at and they’ll transfer the call.

    Why did Phill and Nancy who never supposedly sees Nikki say it was suicide. Unless they had something to hide.

    Something Nancy has done now for 10 years – hide. Who hides after their BFF is killed?

    NANCY SPEAK UP – you don’t want to live like this. It’s not healthy. Talk – sooner of later someone you’ve talked to will. A normal person, who has a conscious, it eats at them, they want to tell. I am praying they will and YOU DO.

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