"I encourage people to remember that "no" is a complete sentence."
-Gavin de Becker
It was the 9th of September 2013. Thirty four year old Nicole Leger lived with her seventeen year old son Trey in Melissa, Collin County, Texas, United States. At around 8 am that morning, Trey left the house to go to school. Nicole was still in bed and he said goodbye to her and she told him she loved him. He did not know it then but that would be the last time he would ever see his mother alive again.
Trey got home home from school that afternoon at 4.30pm. He called out to Nicole but there was no answer. Trey went to her bedroom but her door was locked so he looked underneath the door and saw her foot dangling off the bed. Fearing something was wrong, Trey picked the lock and entered Nicole's bedroom. Nicole was stretched out on the bed. She had been murdered. Trey called police.
When the Detective arrived just after 5pm, he saw Nicole on her bed and she was naked from the waist down. Her underwear was around her right ankle and her top had been pulled up which exposed her chest. Nicole had been shot twice in the head. The autopsy later confirmed Nicole's death was caused by two gunshot wounds to the head.
There was no sign of forced entry at the property. Trey said that he locked the front door when he left that morning but it was unlocked when he returned home that afternoon. Police did not need to look hard for a suspect in the case though. They were aware that Nicole was in fear of her life. She was afraid of her former partner, Michael Adams.
Nicole was once engaged to Michael and she had lived with him and Trey in Frisco in Texas. But their engagement had not ended well and Nicole was so afraid that she moved some twenty miles away to Melissa and rented a house in her friend's name. She also used a different name for her utility bills. But none of that mattered as Michael still found her.
When Nicole met Michael she was fun loving and a great mother to Trey and had just been accepted into nursing school. Life with Michael was not how she imagined it would be. According to Trey, Michael was "obsessive compulsive" and the house had to always be "incredibly neat and tidy." It wasn't just the house that he was obsessed with. He was insanely jealous and was obsessed with Nicole and her body, so much so that he kept a topless photograph of her on his nightstand with two candles beside it. When Nicole ended their engagement, he was not willing to accept that it was over.
The problems began on the 4th of March 2013. After their relationship ended, Nicole asked Michael if she could collect her belongings and he agreed so on the 4th of March, Nicole drove to his house to pick up her things. When she was there , he asked her to stay for lunch and she agreed. Nicole later told a Detective that it was at that point that things took a more sinister turn. Nicole told the Detective that she believed that Michael laced her pasta dish with drugs as after she had only a few bites, she began to feel tired and dizzy. She then alleged Michael sexually assaulted her. At that point, she was conscious but could not "fight him off" due to the drugs. Her body would not let her, she couldn't make it do what she wanted it to. Michael is then alleged to have taken photographs of Nicole. After the assault, Nicole told the Detective that she was handcuffed and "hogtied" with rope and left naked on blue tarp in Michael's garage. Nicole recalled passing out a number of times but then claimed that Michael loosened the rope during the night. Nicole ran to a neighbour's house but before they could answer, Michael grabbed her and took her back to the garage and tied her up again. Over the course of a few hours, Nicole managed to convince him that she still loved him and agreed to get counselling. When Michael let her go, Nicole drove straight to the police station and told them what happened.
Michael was arrested but later posted bond in the case. It was after that that Nicole decided to move to Melissa and she got a Protective Order against him. Nicole feared that Michael would find her and he did. On the 4th of April 2013, Nicole told police that her mail was stolen and there was a hand written letter in her post box signed by Michael and sprayed with his cologne.
A few months later, just a couple of weeks before she was murdered, Trey found blue tarp and a pair of handcuffs on their porch. At that point, Nicole thought there was no hope of ever escaping Michael. According to Trey, she had resigned herself to the fact that Michael would not stop until she was dead.
Michael was indicted in September 2013 on the kidnapping and rape charges. Nicole was due to testify against him at the Trial. But she never got the chance. On the 9th of September, Nicole was murdered.
In May of 2014, the State of Texas filed an indictment alleging that Michael murdered Nicole and indictment further alleged that he did so in an act of retaliation. That meant that the crime was a capital offense.
It was the Prosecution's case that Michael, who worked for a vehicle repossession company, used a GPS tracking device to locate Nicole's new home. He then called her and threatened to kill her if she testified against him. His work computer revealed that he searched for routes to her home in Melissa. They presented DNA evidence and gun comparison evidence at the Trial to support their belief that Michael killed Nicole.
Michael denied any involvement and claimed that on the day Nicole was shot, he went for a two mile walk and trimmed bushes in his yard. His legal team claimed that the entire investigation had been compromised because of Nicole's involvement with a Detective, Scott Greer, in the case. Scott resigned in September 2013. He had conducted a relationship with Nicole in June but claimed that he exchanged sexually explicit emails with her but they never had a physical relationship.
The Jury believed the Prosecution's version of events and returned a guilty verdict for capital murder which carried an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.
Nicole did everything that she could in this case. She followed the legal steps that she was supposed to take. She left Michael when she felt she was no longer safe. She reported him to the police. She even got a Protective Order. But in the end, she knew that he was so obsessed with her that it was just a matter of time before he would kill her. And that's exactly what he did. Nicole did not want to spend her life with Michael. She said no. Her words meant nothing to him.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello