Dear Mississippi: You Have the Power to Right a Wrong, Find Nikki’s Killer
Nichole (Nikki) LaDue January was murdered on July 29, 2002 on her balcony in Pass Christian, Mississippi. She was rendered helpless by a electroshock stun gun to the head and then executed. It was not suicide like the police and coroner ruled. I have read countless pages of transcripts, police reports, you name it. I have seen the only crime scene photos taken. The rest of Nikki’s police file was supposedly washed to sea during Hurricane Katrina which devastated Pass Christian in 2005 so there was nothing to look at there. But based on what does exist, based on what some of you have told me and based on the fact that government officials from the Attorney General Jim Hood to the Pass Christian Police Chief John Dubuisson have either refused to talk to Nikki’s grieving parents or outright lied to them about the investigation into her death. In fact, some people have come forward to say they’ve been threatened not to talk to Nikki’s family about this case. So who did it? And why was the investigation either cover-upped or botched? What about Phil January, Nikki’s husband, or her best friend Nancy Burge? In my opinion both know much more than they have said which can only mean they are complicit with the crime or are afraid.
Now, I suppose you want to know why I’ve come up with this. Let me explain. First let’s take a look at Nikki. At 30 years old her life was miserable. A raving beauty who could have anything she wanted. Unfortunately, one of the things she wanted was prescription pain killers. She worked in the Grand Casino in Gulfport, a place that later investigated its own staff and found an Oxy-Ring operating. So yes, Nikki took Oxy and was exposed to the element of people who deal it. Word is, it wasn’t a small time dealer but rather a much more organized group. Nikki was also about to break away from all of this. If you believe Phil, she was to go with him to his new job in Louisiana. If you believe just about every close friend Nikki had in the area, she was leaving Phil and moving to Florida where her parents lived. In fact, Nikki was killed one day…one day before she was to make that move. Phil again denies this, but then again, I’m sure she didn’t let him in on her plan. I’ll get into why she was leaving later. There was one thing Nikki was proudest of most. That was being a mother. And by all accounts she was a great mother to her son Zack who was 5 at the time of her death. Angelia Hursell, who babysat Zack up until a few hours before Nikki’s death said, “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.”
Phil, as I said, got a job in security at the Boomtown Casino in Boosier City, Louisiana. It’s his contention that their marriage was in good shape and that while Nikki was going to Florida to see her parents, her plan after that was to return to him in Boosier City. The night of Nikki’s death, he called her at their condo in Pass Christian. In fact, between 11p-2:30a they made 20 calls to each other with many calls lasting 1 or 2 minutes. Only one person knows what was said on those calls–Phil January. Phil told me he was upset with her because he thought she was on drugs. That said, he said he never knew how she acted when she was taking pills before. When he found out, rather when she told him in April of 2002, he was “blown away” and “had no idea”. She stopped taking pills at that point so how would he know she was high, from a cell phone call when he couldn’t tell when they were together? If you lose credibility with me, like most people I guess, everything you say is suspect. So whatever Phil told me happened on the phone is questionable. He said he was a police officer for 20 years in Texas. He even went so far to say he was on a SWAT team. That’s what Nikki believed. That’s what the Pass Christian police believed as well. However, when a private investigator looked into that, the city of Wichita Falls, Texas had no record of him working in any law enforcement capacity. Ever. When I asked him about that, he refused to answer and in fact cut off all communication about Nikki’s case. He told me he never yelled at Nikki. Yet Bonnie LaDue, Nikki’s mother remembers the “phone call from hell” when Nikki came clean about her drug abuse. “I asked what was going on and she said, ‘Mom, I’m a drug addict.’ And Phil is in the background screaming obscenities at her calling her every filthy name in the book accusing her of being a whore and worse. I heard it all. I can’t even really re-live that day.” That outburst apparently wasn’t the first time, nor the last from Phil. By many accounts he was very controlling and had one hell of a temper. Question why he worked at several casinos and was escorted off the premises at least once. As part of what he called Nikki’s “Recovery Journal” he had this list of things she was to do:
Call doctor’s office about wrist
Clean balcony off
Call your mom
Take a walk with the boys
Hamburgers for dinner (& fries)
Quality evening time with familyOther examples of her to do list include
vacuum inside of car
watch Spiderman with Pooter and take nap
visit with Nancy
Hot tub with the boys
wake up @ 9:30
Nichole L. January
*Pass Christian – Nichole Lynn January, 30, died Monday, July 29, 2002 in Pass Christian.
Mrs. January was a native of Hornell, N.Y. and was employed with Grand Casino Gulfport.
Survivors include her husband, Philip January.
Services are pending at Brown & Powers Funeral Home in Angelica, N.Y. Riemann funeral Home, 25th Avenue in Gulfport handled local arrangements.
He left out Zack, her only son. He left out her mother, father and sisters. He included only himself. And while Nikki was indeed born in a hospital in Hornell, New York, she didn’t live there. She was a native of Angelica, New York.
While Phil did not pay for any of Nikki’s funeral expenses, he did pay for the headstone that marks her grave. Once again, nothing about being a mother and the engraving is more about Phil than Nikki. Like the kids say today, that’s messed up. At her funeral, Bonnie recalled an eerie moment with Phil. “Phil had asked to see Terry and me privately, right after he arrived at the funeral home…even before he had gone to see Nikki in her casket to pay his respects. Chet Gosper (funeral directory) directed the three of us to his office and I remember hoping that Phil was going to enlighten us with what had really happened. Instead, he opened a box and told us he had chosen certain pieces of Nikki’s jewelry for each of us…her Dad, her sisters, and me. We spent about a half hour with him while he showed us rings,watches and necklaces and described their significance. The night I was with Chet he commented to me he had never seen anything so strange…that most people didn’t discuss or consider distribution of a loved one’s possessions until weeks after they had passed.”
There’s much more to come. Have the Pass Christian Police and Harrison County Sheriff’s office covered something up? Why are they still hiding when it comes to Nikki?
Posted on January 23, 2012, in Cold Cases, Crime, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged Angelia Hursell, angelica new york, Bonnie LaDue, Cold Cases, Gary Hargrove, Grand Casino, Mississippi, Murder, Nancy Burge, Nikki LaDue January, Pass Christian, Phil January, Thomas Pustay, town of angelica. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.