Phil January Interview with PI (Part 9 and final)
Now to the final part 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 which 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. Phil found Nikki dead on the couple’s balcony after traveling home from Louisiana. He admits they had several phone calls in the early morning up until about 1:30 a.m. and that the phone calls were filled with anger at times. It’s the police and coroner’s assumption that those phone calls caused Nikki to kill herself, disregarding her little boy in the room next to her. Now back to Phil’s interview with the PI. In front of Nikki’s body was a table. We resume the interview there.
Phil: 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.
PI: The cigarettes.
Phil: The cigarettes. The holster.
PI: OK. And and the cigarettes, one of the brands was not hers?
Phil: They were the same brand, but not what she smoked. She was very particular.
PI: What was the other brand? Marlboro –
Phil: Marlboro Reds. And hers were Marlboro Medium 100s in a box. And that’s what she smoked. And that’s all she would smoke. There was a little store, right next to there – And if we ran out of cigarettes we normally bought them down in long beach by the carton, but if we ran out I would go buy some out of there they never had the 100s. They would only have the short ones. So I’d go get the short ones, and then when she’d get up, normally she slept late, and she’d smoke one to get by, and then she’d get her ass around and go down to the Long Beach and go buy her own. She would not even smoke the SAME TYPE of cigarette in shorts. She just, she was very particular about that.
PI: And I’ve seen the photographs. I didn’t see anything in her hand. Did you see anything in her hand?
Phil: I don’t remember her hands. That’s a question that has been asked over and over. I can remember everything except her hands.
PI: the pistol?
Phil: I don’t remember seeing – I know where the pistol – I remember seeing –
PI: Odd place huh?
Phil: Very odd. And I remember thinking that at the time. And not only that, it’s turned opposite of what, it, to me it’s like looks like somebody in front of her would have placed it. Not what you would have placed it yourself.
PI: Right. Butt – butt facing out.
Phil: Exactly. So you did see the pictures.
PI: Mmhmm. Yeah.
Phil: I tried to explain to people that you need to put it like a mirror image. And uh, so yeah, I mean. And then I I bring that question up to the police and you see their freaking response to it.
PI: And and and in regards to Pustay (Detective Thomas Pustay, lead investigator), Uhm, did he ever contact y– I mean I I I see your correspondence back and forth between him, but you never met him. Have you ever talked to him telephonicly at all? Or –
Phil: Yes. Yeah. He told me they were they were reopening, they were going to uh subpoena the phone records, and then three days later I get his response to my letter, that I sent. Which is totally opposite of what he told me on the phone. That’s the only time that he ever talked to me on the phone. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever talked to him on the phone.
PI: OK. And you’ve and you’ve talked to Hargrove (Gary Hargrove, coroner) and Hargrove was…
Phil: Hargrove was a jerk about the whole thing. If I, if I could have reached through the phone, I’d’ve choked him to death. You, there’s just no way that you talk to somebody like that. I don’t care who you are. I’ve done this. I’ve been around it. You don’t talk to somebody in this situation in in that respect whatsoever. I mean he cussed me like a dog.
PI: Now, what we’re talking about too is now uh there was you, Matt, and uhm uh Nancy there. Nanc- now um uh, Mike (Mike Williams, Zack’s father) was called? To pick up Zack?
Phil: I called the casino at some point in time, talked to the shift manager, um, asked if Mike was there, and they said no he had already left. And I said, I think it was Larry Braze the guy, the the guys name and I said well Um I need you to see if you can go you can get a hold of Mike and ask him to come to the condo and pick up Zack.
PI: OK. So he arrived. The baby sitter. Uh Angela (Angelea Hursell babysat Zack the night before. She said Nikki was in good spirits and happy to see her son). Did she, did she arrive also? Did she –
Phil: Yeah, she did. I have no idea how she had found out.
PI: OK. And and so so she arrived, and Nancy leaves at some point?
Phil: Um, later on I don’t remember when Nancy left to be honest with you.
PI: Do you remember all the folks that were there? There was I mean at at the most folks that were there at one- any given point, there was, well the folks that were there I mean like you were there the whole time, there was um, there was you, Nancy, Matt, Angela,
Phil: Mike, Paul and my buddy Alan showed up because I called Frank, and Frank called Alan to get Alan over there. To help me out. Before he could get here.
PI: Casey Garret? Did he show up? Casey didn’t show up? (Casey was the man Nikki was said to have been out with the night before).
Phil: Not to my knowledge. I didn’t see him if he did. And I stayed out of sight. Sitting in the car port for the longest time. With with my son and Alan.
PI: Did Mike, did Mike ever show up?
PI: uh did you ever talk to Mike? Is what I mean.
Phil: Uh He just came up and asked where Zack was.
PI: And that’s it.
Phil. That’s it.
PI: He didn’t ask how Nikki was or what happened to Nikki or anything regarding Nikki?
Phil: And he walked back and my son told me he said absolutely nothing to him
PI: He didn’t say nothing to Matt.
PI: Did anyone say anything to Matt? Did Matt, uh, told you later on did anyone say anything to him?
Phil: No. Actually nobody really said much to him. I don’t think mostly anybody really knew who he was, or, you know he stayed in his truck unless he was standing out there beside me. Now, uh Alan had met him before when he had been down here visiting. So when Alan got there, you know, they they talked I guess. In fact they were both standing by the truck looking at (indistinguishable) at one time it seems.
PI: And you were very upset by all indications and um, you kind of um
Phil: Well they kept me from hurting myself even worse than I did. (Phil was said to have punched a wall)
PI: Um, weeks after that, um, I think by accounts and it could be wrong. Um You had some sort of indication that Paul was there, well, I guess gen- through Zack.
Phil: No I, no I had that the next day.
PI: The next day. That that Paul was there. And by all indications also you were there you wanted to go after Paul.
Phil: When I found out the next morning, I talked to to a guy that’s now working with us up there. And he was working graveyard shift I called him and so I met him outside the property of the Grand. And he told me what what had what he had heard. That that that somebody told him that Paul was seen with Nikki that night. Um, Paul’s reaction when he pulled up that day, Alan and I, I don’t know if you’ve talked to Alan but Alan and I- Both had the same reaction to Paul’s demeanor when he got there and it was not right. Um, so, yeah. I was upset.
PI: Did he disarm you?
PI: Did he disarm you. Alan?
Phil: Disarm me?
PI: Did you have a weapon?
PI: There were no threats towards Paul?
Phil: Yeah, but it wasn’t with a weapon. It wasn’t a threat toward Paul. Paul had come over that morning. Alan and my brother Martin had confronted him in the in the thing about some things and they said his reaction was just – so when they told me that I came over there later Tuesday, that would have been Tuesday afternoon. I said call him up, and tell him to come over here we need to talk to him. Just don’t tell him that I’m here.
PI: I can’t really come up with a source where someone said that Alan um, Alan told you to take off or took or took your pistol, from you.
Phil: I don’t have a pistol. I only had the one personal weapon. The other weapon that I talked about had already been turned in when I left that other business.
PI: So that, so that that report was false.
Phil: I don’t I don’t to this day have another weapon. That’s the only weap- personal weapon I ever owned. I do not have another weapon. Never have had. That’s the only personal weapon I’ve had since I got rid of my deer hunting rifles and shot guns years ago. Years ago.
PI: Yeah OK. OK. Uh, and Al and Alan as you say, to help clean up.
Phil: Yeah and his wife went back over there later. His wife works in the medical field.
PI: Did you look through her stuff to get any sort, any indication, to try to do… and I I’m sure you at that point you believed the police department were doing their job.
Phil: Yes I did.
PI: But did you, you know look through her stuff to see if there was any sort of indication what could have gone wrong, uh, there also was an indication that that uh uh that you erased your hard drive, soon afterwards.
Phil: I had my son do it.
PI: For what reason?
Phil: I did- I didn’t know, um, I mean, at the time, they say, they found it on the comp-, they didn’t say they found it on the computer, they said they found a note. My thinking was, that if Nikki wrote a note that they found that it was probably on the computer. So I told Matt to go erase everything. I didn’t want to see it. You got to remember at this point I didn’t want to see it. I told him to sell the car. I told him I don’t want this, I don’t want that. Get rid of everything.
PI: OK. Did you, did you sell the car?
Phil: No I’m driving it now.
PI: Oh you’re driving the car now?
Phil: I, luckily, had people around me that when I got back from New York, I still wanted the car sold, and then I looked at it and I couldn’t. So no I still have it. And my son did that (erased the hard drive) at my request. But that was the only reason.
PI: And that, and that is, uh, um, was that because of the, you found out the, or you didn’t know at the time, the police department used a search engine on the computer to find that –
Phil: I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t know –
PI: Pustay claimed he used a search engine to find it.
Phil: He did. I found it later. That’s how I knew.
PI: Did they, did they take the computer?
PI: How- if Pustay wasn’t there, how did he, how did he how did he-
Phil: Oh I’m not saying that Pustay wasn’t there. I didn’t say that. I never. I said Pustay never talked to me. If Pustay was there, I never saw him. And he certainly never talked to me.
PI: I mean you can’t miss this guy, mustache. Heavy set guy.
Phil: That’s what I’m saying. I – I never saw him. That’s not to say that he wasn’t there. I, I didn’t mean to imply that I said he wasn’t there because I don’t know that. I just know that he never talked to me.
PI: He never talked to you. The only guy that ever talked to you –
Phil: He has, he has made several times statements that he talked to me. And he did not talk to me.
PI: Did anyone else interview you after that?
Phil: No. That was it.
PI: That was it. They they never asked you and said, they made up their minds.
Phil: Bert showed up, that was it. They left. The only people that ever came back up to me was the paramedics came up to me. Tried to clean my hands off. And I wouldn’t let them.
PI: Never called, never called you, never did anything.
PI: So they had so they had their minds sounds like made up from the scene.
Phil: In an hour.
Posted on January 17, 2012, in Cold Cases, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged Angelia Hursell, Cold Cases, Gary Hargrove, Grand Casino, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January, Pass Christian, Phil January, Suicide, Thomas Pustay. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.