A 30-year-old Eastern New Orleans man as been arrested and accused of murdering Des Allemands resident Lindsay Nichols, who was found shot to death June 21 in the trunk of her black Honda Accord when firefighters and police responded to a car fire at the intersection of Lake Forest and Michoud boulevards.
Thayon Samson, 30, was arrested and booked Monday with one count of second-degree murder Monday in connection with Nichols’ murder. Samson’s bail was set at $2.5 million Tuesday.
Lindsay Nichols, 31, had recently returned back to the area from Texas, where she traveled to work as a timekeeper for a construction company. Her mother said she had just moved into a new place and went out to a New Orleans East bar with friends Saturday night to celebrate.
The next morning police found her in the trunk of her car in New Orleans East.
Police believe Samson, a barber, killed Nichols early June 21. Her body was found around 7 a.m. in a burning car on a deserted stretch of Michoud Boulevard near Lake Forest Boulevard.
Arrest documents show NOPD Homicide Detective Rob Barrere, investigating the case, was able to place Samson at the murder scene using both cellphone data and DNA results from a telltale pair of basketball shorts found inside the charred car and worn by Samson in a photo found on his Instagram account.
According to court documents, Samson lives less than a mile away, in the 13000 block of Chateau Court.
An autopsy determined Lindsay died from “numerous gunshot wounds,” according to the arrest report. The document states witnesses and anonymous tipsters saw someone matching Samson’s description “standing at the open trunk” of Nichols’ car around 7 a.m.
Nichols’ mother, Jolene Dufrene, said that her daughter was at a nightclub with friends on June 20. Dufrene said she started to worry the next morning because her daughter wasn’t answering calls. Then she saw her car in a news photograph online.
According to the report, Nichols was last seen by friends leaving a nightclub on Downman Road around 4 a.m., after she met Samson and got his phone number. Investigators recovered phone data showing Nichols placed two calls to Samson’s number at 4:11 a.m. and 4:18 a.m.
By 4:45 a.m., Nichols placed a frantic call to 911 operator, the police report states. Nichols requested emergency assistance to an apartment complex at Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road, adjacent to a car dealership. The report says Nichols told the 911 operator that a man she had only met once before was outside her car, holding her car keys and pointing a gun at her.
“As the call progressed,” the warrant affidavit says, “an irate male subject’s voice became audible and he began to scream profanities at her, accusing her of providing his address to another subject; (Nichols) moaned and sounded as if she were being attacked.”
That was the last anyone heard from Nichols.
After her body was discovered, police obtained a search warrant for her car. Inside, Barrere found a partially burned plastic bag containing bloodstained clothing – a white tank-top undershirt, tube socks and a pair of red and 1-brand basketball shorts. The clothing was sent to the state police crime lab for DNA analysis.
Nichols had just returned to the New Orleans area to visit family. She had been working as a bookkeeper for a Texas construction company and had a 9-year-old son.
Her death came in the middle of a busy Father’s Day weekend for New Orleans police, who were investigating an Upper 9th Ward murder-suicide involving an officer’s parents, searching for accused cop killer Travis Boys and responding to the separate killings of an Avondale music promoter and a Navy veteran.