6,940,000 pageviews

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The James Nichols Murder Case

     On December 26, 1985, James L. Nichols Jr. reported his wife JoAnn missing from their home in Poughkeepsie, New York. According to Mr. Nichols his 55-year-old spouse, a first grade teacher at Gayhead Elementary School in upstate New York's Hopewell Junction, had left the house three days earlier. Mr. Nichols told investigators that she had called home on Christmas eve but had refused to reveal her whereabouts.

     In an attempt to explain his wife's mysterious disappearance the husband told police officers that JoAnn had been depressed over the May 1982 drowning of their only son, 25-year-old James Nichols III. The young man had died in a lake in Mississippi. On the Nichols' home computer, detectives found comments ostensibly written by the missing wife that hinted of her intent to commit suicide.

     Many of JoAnn's friends and co-workers, from the very beginning, suspected the teacher's husband of wrongdoing in the case. Mr. Nichols, a hoarder who had filled the couple's basement to the ceiling with junk, was by all accounts an obsessive man with strange habits.

     As is often the case when people go missing, a handful of psychic "detectives" provided investigators with false leads as to the missing woman's fate and her whereabouts. Eventually the missing persons investigation fizzled-out and the matter was forgotten. Mr. Nichols, who did not remarry, remained in the house in Poughkeepsie and continued to fill it up with garbage.

     On December 21, 2012 Mr. Nichols died at the age of eighty-two. The dwelling was in such a mess a contractor had to be called in to haul off the junk and trash before the place could be put on the market. At 5 PM on June 28, 2013 one of the workers stumbled upon a container that had been hidden inside a false wall in the Nichols basement. The box contained a human skeleton.

     A few days after the gruesome discovery Dr. Kari Reiber, the Duchess County Medical Examiner, announced that through dental records the remains had been identified as JoAnn Nichols. According to the forensic pathologist the first grade teacher had been murdered by blunt force trauma to the head.

     It's hard to image that JoAnn Nichols had been murdered by anyone other than her oddball husband James. For twenty-seven years her body remained hidden amid the junk and debris in this hoarder's basement. Apparently there was nothing, not even his wife's corpse, that this man didn't save.

     While the motive behind JoAnn Nichols' murder remains a mystery, the following is a good guess: Fed up with her husband's hoarding, JoAnn Nichols expressed her intent to divorce him. That would mean they would have to sell the house, and in so doing, rid the place of all the debris. To keep his stuff and possibly benefit from his dead spouse's Social Security benefits, James Nichols murdered his wife and added her remains to his collection of trash and junk.  


  1. Turns out he had a gf:

  2. I am a local and remember the case well.I was about 12 at the time and even I knew better then the detectives The whole idea that the son's death was an accident is hard for me to believe too. This vehicles only move at 20 mph and about 3mph in water. If it were true He would be the only death related to AN argo in history. He was with his son on that day that he died.I feel the son met the same fate as the mother ,with a blow to the head. I feel that the wife confronted him about the suspicious death and he killed her as well. The fact that she remained missing baffles me. Those detectives working on the case were a bunch of bumbling fools to say there was no probable cause. The police found the old man after a few days, where was the probable cause to enter the home if it was not there in 85'. Funny thing all these cops rose through the ranks in the department.SMH