Dear Mississippi: You Have the Power to Right a Wrong, Find Nikki’s Killer


Nikki and son Zack

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 January

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:

Make a better attempt at completing this list (you have been slipping some)
{The list being referred to is the names of every one she knows who used drugs. She never gave him a list}
Wash our bedding
Call doctor’s office about wrist
Attend meeting
Clean balcony off
Call your mom
Make bed
Take a walk with the boys
Hamburgers for dinner (& fries)
Quality evening time with family
Other examples of her to do list include
run dishwasher
vacuum inside of car
watch Spiderman with Pooter and take nap
Tanning
haircut
visit with Nancy
Hot tub with the boys
wake up @ 9:30
Phil, in an effort to show me how much Nikki loved him, forwarded 11 emails she had written to him. He asked me not to publish them and I won’t. However, I will say that those emails didn’t show me a woman in love. They showed me a woman who was afraid. They showed me a woman who spent her life walking on egg shells. She had a son. She had options. She was going to Florida and she was leaving Phil. And despite what he says, I think he knows that. One more thing about Phil and this actually shocked me. Yes he was her husband, but he was never going to take the place of the little man in her life in the number 1 spot. And that was Zack. Read the obituary Phil submitted through the funeral home. 

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.

Nikki's tombstone. It says, I love you with all my body, heart & soul today, tomorrow & forever.

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?

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Posted on January 23, 2012, in Cold Cases, Crime, Mississippi, Murder, Nikki LaDue January and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. a concerned friend

    I would bet a whole lot of money that that bastard Phil and sneaky Nancy had a lot to do with this. I hope that Bonnie gets her answers SOON. We all want answers. Bonnie and her husband DESERVE ANSWERS. People, PLEASE come forward to help. It’s been long enough. DON’T BE A COWARD………….COME FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. That is a sign of a control freak, I think he did it or had it done 😦 I HOPE THEY OPEN THIS CASE AGAIN AND SO THE FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS CAN GET CLOSER !!!!! SO SAD 😦

  3. Great post! I’ve been following this case online for some time.

    Your posts make it clear that Phil is a liar and a controller. Maybe he was even abusive. But that does not make him necessarily a killer. He certainly had motive. And perhaps he could have been at the scene of the crime, even though he has an alibi.

    But the incompetency/cover-up part just doesn’t make sense. Who the hell is Phil January that the police and “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”?

    Maybe you can chalk up the local police to incompetency not just from one officer but across the entire force. Maybe. But state and federal level officials? Can ALL of them be incompetent? That doesn’t make sense either.

    What about them all being corrupt? Maybe. That seems to hold a little more water.

    But let’s assume for a minute that it’s a cover-up. What are they covering up FOR? A controlling husband who killed his wife? It just doesn’t add up.

    This is an interesting new twist. I am looking forward to what you have to share in your upcoming posts!

    • An old friend....

      I too have been following the case online, however, I have not found in my readings a solid alibi. From my understanding, the family has requested confirmation of his alibi in the form of receipts, phone records – basically anything that could put him on the grid. He has nothing solid, paid with cash, called from unknown numbers and proclaimed the unknown calls were from the hotel/casino in Louisiana. Phil’s alibi according to Phil means nothing to me.

      Reading on I see that because of the lack of Phil’s ability to prove his own alibi, the family (on numerous occasions) has requested Phil consent to a polygraph. He will not do it.

      I do not think organized crime had anything to do with this at all. That is far fetched and seems unlikely. Just because Nikki bought pills does not mean she had connections with the cartel.

      Of course the police are not covering up for a controlling husband who killed his wife. The police cover up doesn’t amount to anything more than covering up their own lazy procedures. I think everyone trusted Pustay and trusted Hargrove and trusted they were doing their job when the fact is no one did their jobs. I read the reports – 2nd grade at best. Next step up is Cono, the DA. We heard from one of Nikki’s friends on the coast she went with an attorney to a scheduled appointment with Cono, all documents in hand, for the purpose of getting him to order investigation of Nikki’s murder. He coldly denied her. Pustay rots in jail, unless the next gov. decides he is worthy of pardon and Hargrove speaks for himself on national television, no less.

      Attorney General, Jim Hood, his advice is to contact the DA. Thanks Jim.

    • Maybe he was abusive??? I have read reports of former girlfriends and/or wives claiming abuse. Maybe he stopped being abusive…took a little break when he met Nikki….decided controlling would be enough for her because she was a little feisty.

      I suppose the meaning of “abusive” is relative, apparently.

      • To Lori and her children

        I would like to hear from Phil’s current wife. By the looks of her facebook page, she seems to adore him. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1495327090&sk=info

        On her “about” page I found this strange quote that is strikingly similar to the writings of Phil.

        “Always remember what is important in your life and watch out for the evil that lurks around you like internet predators!” In his writings he uses the words evil, lurks, and predators often.

        I couldn’t help but notice the comments under a few of the pics idolizing Phil like any loving wife would. Something stands out as odd to me, almost as if he wrote the comments and the quote above.

        I assume Lori stands behind her man, so to Lori I say: “Your man can take a polygraph and clear his name and you all can go on with your life but HE WILL NOT DO IT.”. To Lori’s children I say: “Stay close to your mom and be prepared as anything can happen with Phil around. I know that is heavy, and if you have any clue at this point, you are scared to death for your mom. You should be. Stay close, do not push her away, and most of all, do not let Phil push you away.”

  4. I believe someone murdered Nikki! Maybe not her husband,but I don`t believe she committed suicide.I can`t see any mother picking up her child knowing she was going home to kill herself. She would have left him with the babysitter so he would have been looked after properly.That`s my opinion

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