In this post, I want to discuss another item at the scene: a cordless telephone. ____________________________________________________
In July of 2002, the body of Nikki LaDue January was found seated on the balcony of her condominium in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Officers stated that she had a single gun shot wound to her right temple area.
A Sterling .380 caliber pistol was partially under her left thigh on a chair, her right leg was propped up against the table in front of her, and a cordless phone on the table was covered in blood.
There were two different brands of cigarettes and two different lighters on the table in front of her.
A bullet was located in a chair on the next balcony, and a shell casing was later found by a maintenance man in the condo's pool.
Ms. January had apparently been deceased for several hours, and her five-year old son was found in the residence unharmed.
Authorities at the scene quickly classified the death as a suicide.
B) The Telephone
Near the end of Pass Christian Police Department detective Tom Pustay's investigative narrative, a report where he describes the death scene of Ms. LaDue January, he makes the following curious statement:
"...There is a cordless phone on a table that is covered with blood. It is unknown how it got there or how the blood got on it..."
As the report continues, a reader expects the detective, who has introduces a seemingly out of place bloody phone, to clarify that initial statement.
He does not.
Strangely, no additional information about the phone is included in Pustay's report, but he photographed it (shown below).
The family allowed me to review a second police report on the case--that of one of the police first responders that morning: Sgt. Willie Davis.
Sgt. Davis' description of the scene does not mention the bloody phone on the table.
So, two detailed reports of a death scene thought to be a suicide, and an object that was evidently covered in blood and lying on a table about five feet from the body, is barely mentioned.
But, why is the phone important?
Remember, the pathologist hired by the family to examine Nikki's body stated that death occurred "immediately or very rapidly after immediate loss of consciousness."
So, a bloody phone on a table would have been either placed there by the woman immediately as she was dying or, and here we go again, moved there by someone else.
Now, the phone was evidently moved once by Nikki's husband, Phil January.
According to documents provided by Nikki's family, Phil stated that he initially saw the phone "in the middle of her lap."
Mr. January evidently added that the phone was covered in blood (as in the photo), not near Nikki's hand, and was in an area of her lap that had no blood stains.
In addition, the family states that Phil was also confused by the source of the blood on the phone, spoke with Detective Pustay about it, and was concerned over the investigator's dismissal of the detail.
When authorities arrived it was said that the phone's battery was dead.
In sum, a woman's death is declared a suicide. The gun believed to be used in the death is found in a chair partially under one of the victim's legs. A portable phone covered in blood, is seen on a table in front of the woman--but it is unknown how the blood got there.
It is reasonable to argue that the gun was moved and later placed between the victim's legs.
The telephone was moved at least once before the body was photographed--and it is likely that the item was relocated twice prior to police arriving.
That said, this renders more questions than anything:
--How did the phone get covered in blood?
--Was she holding the phone at the time of death?
--Who moved it (how many times) and why?
This "open-and-shut suicide" case appears to be anything but that.
I'll have more next Monday--including another strange item photographed on Ms. LaDue January's table, but not mentioned in police reports.