"Look at me! You took something so precious from me. You took my baby girl for no reason."
Johnna Henson , Kelli's mother
It was the 13th of April 2012. Twenty three year old Kelli Bordeaux was looking to have some fun after working hard all week. It was a Friday night and she was due to go to Froggy Bottoms bar which was close to her home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, United States.
Kelli was married to Mike Bordeaux. The two of them moved to North Carolina from their home in St. Cloud, Florida for Kelli's job in the military. She was a combat medic and stationed at Fort Bragg. Kelli loved her job. Even though she was a former high school cheerleader and a beauty queen, she loved the outdoors too and wanted to do something that involved going to different places and helping people.
Kelli and Mike
Kelli had been stationed at Fort Bragg for only a couple of months since completing basic training and boot camp. She had moved in to an apartment off base with her husband Mike but things didn't work out. Their relationship was not great in Florida and it only got worse in North Carolina. They split up. Mike moved back to Florida and Kelli stayed in North Carolina.
Before Kelli moved to North Carolina, she met Justin Thompson in Florida and the two began a relationship. He visited Kelli in Fayetteville and things were going well between them. But Kelli didn't know anyone outside of work in the area and was keen to make friends. One weekend when Justin was with her, the two of them went to Froggy Bottoms and it was there that they met Nicholas Holbert. He worked as a bartender there. He asked Kelli for her phone number and she gave it to him.
On the 13th of April, Nicholas asked Kelli if she would like to go to Froggy Bottoms. She was delighted to be asked. It would be fun. She sent her sister a text and a selfie showing her the outfit she was wearing and her sister told her it looked cute. Nicholas collected her that evening and they went to Froggy Bottoms.
Kelli had a great night. Everyone there saw how much fun she had. She played pool, sang at the karaoke and had a few drinks. Justin knew she was out with Nicholas that night and she told him she would let him know when she got home. He received a text message from her in the early hours of the next morning:
"Got home safe ... I'm going to bed ... Call me tomorrow."
Justin thought the text message was strange as the one he received before that said:
"Hey, call me. Call me. Call me."
Justin tried to reach her all weekend, he called her multiple times but there was no answer.
When Kelli didn't show up for work on the Monday morning, the Army reached out to Mike. Mike told them he had no idea where she was as he was back in Florida. Mike contacted Kelli's sister Olivia Cox to ask if she had heard from Kelli. The last she heard from her was when Kelli sent the selfie on the Friday evening.
Olivia called Kelli but got no answer either. Kelli's family reported her missing to the Fayetteville Police headquarters.
Nobody had heard from Kelli for three days.
Police knew they needed to speak with three men immediately;Mike, Justin and Nicholas. Both Justin and Mike had alibis and were in Florida when Kelli went missing. Police were able to verify this. They were cleared as suspects. Police focused on Nicholas as he was the last known person to see Kelli.
Justin was suspicious of Nicholas as soon as he knew Kelli was missing. When Justin met Nicholas, he told Kelli to watch out for him as he had a bad feeling about him. He told her he was creepy. But Nicholas was cooperative and answered police questions. He pleaded with the public for information and took part in the searches for her.
Nicholas told police that he collected Kelli on the Friday night and they went to Froggy Bottoms. It was a great night. Afterwards he dropped her home. He said that it was around 1am-1.30am when Kelli said that she wanted to go home as she was tired. He gave her a lift as far as Meadowbrook as she wanted to get out and walk across to her apartment. It was just beside where she lived. Police knew that after that Justin received a text message from Kelli's phone to say she was home. So police had to establish what happened.
As they investigated further, police discovered Nicholas was a convicted sex offender. When he was just sixteen years old , he sexually assaulted and beat up a five year old girl. He spent five years in prison for that crime. When he moved to Fayetteville, he failed to register as a sex offender so police arrested him and he was back in prison. Police thought that if he was in prison, they would be able to find out further details and evidence to try to establish if he was involved in Kelli's disappearance. They found nothing.
In May 2013, Nicholas was released from prison. Police still had no idea where Kelli was or what happened to her.
It would be more than two years before Kelli's family would find out what happened to her. But they eventually did due to the dedicated and clever work of Private Investigator David Marshburn.
Nick and David Marshburn
David befriended Nicholas and over time managed to make him trust him.He convinced him he was about to be indicted for Kelli's murder. He showed him a fake indictment that he created himself and he made him believe he was under police surveillance. David even managed to persuade Nicholas to believe that there was a plea deal on the table and it was a deal that Nicholas was willing to accept. In return for a confession, he would get probation and rehabilitation.
Nicholas told David that Kelli was dead and he agreed to lead David to Kelli's body. Nicholas also confessed to the police.
According to Nicholas, he took Kelli to Froggy Bottoms on the Friday night as planned. He said that she wanted to go home so he went out and got the car ready while she went to pay her bar tab. He waited for her outside in his car. Nicholas thought that someone inside the bar, another bartender, told her to be careful as she was paying her bar tab and warned her that he was a sex offender. When she left the bar, her attitude was completely different towards Nicholas.
Kelli went down the sidewalk of Froggy Bottoms and walked past his car. She said that she was walking home instead. Nicholas asked her what was going on and she said:
"f**k you, you f**king child molester."
At this point, according to Nicholas, he snapped. Nicholas got out of the car, ran up behind her and hit her. He knocked her out completely. He dragged her into the car and drove to his makeshift tent where he lived behind the Froggy Bottoms bar in a wooded area. He then got on top of her and she started screaming when she woke. He struck her on the head multiple times with a rock. He used a trash bag to wrap her head up and then buried her body. After Nicholas killed and buried Kelli, he went back to the Froggy Bottoms for a few more drinks.
Johnna (Kelli's mother) and Kelli
Nicholas showed David and then the police where Kelli's remains were. It was around three miles from the Froggy Bottoms. A ten minute drive away. An all terrain vehicle and two unmarked patrol cars were used to travel along a wooded path from River Road to the area where Kelli was found.
Nicholas told them:
"You're gonna find a jacket covering her. You're gonna find a bag over her head. You're gonna find her laying in a hole."
Nicholas admitted that he had sent the text message to Justin.
An autopsy determined Kelli died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Nicholas was charged with first degree murder. There was a plea deal on offer but it wasn't quite the one that David had pretended was on the table. In exchange for a guilty plea, Nicholas would serve life in prison without the possibility of parole. He accepted it to avoid the death penalty.
Nicholas apologized to Kelli's family in Court and acknowledged:
"There isn't anything I can say or do to relieve the pain."
Kelli's mother Johnna Henson spoke to him. She insisted that he look straight at her as she spoke to him. Johnna said that she cannot forgive him and all she feels is hate. She said:
"I don't understand how you could take a beautiful young girl for pretty much no reason. Would you forgive someone like that?"
She told him that the twenty five months that she waited for news of her daughter were agony for her.
Johnna later told 48 Hours:
"She was a determined young woman. She wasn't just a nobody. She wasn't just some girl."
"Took you long enough to say you're sorry," she said.
"I hate you" said Kelli Bordeaux's mother. "You go to hell" pic.twitter.com/OmZQWpOBeB— Greg Barnes (@GregBarnesABC11) August 7, 2015
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"My family and myself are good, decent and very honest people."
"He is the single most blatant, arrogant, yet curiously effective liar and manipulator of the truth.”
- Deputy District Attorney Christopher Evans
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