LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — 43-year-old Nikki James was charged with two counts of murder earlier this week after police said she stabbed her two children to death. Today, we’re learning that an issue with her housing could have been a contributing factor.
Ms. James who was renting an apartment on Rogers Road was told her lease would not be renewed at the end of this month. Some believe she felt trapped and out of options.
“It seemed to be a catalyst to a catastrophic event. So whatever that might be we don’t know the situation that led up to it, but our hearts go out to the loved ones of the family,” said Jarred Paull.
Mr. Paull is the Vice Chairman of Central Kentucky’s Housing and Homeless Initiative, and its Chairman, Michael Wilson has some strong opinions about what happened and why. He believes the city could have done more to help.
“Two children are ultimately killed by the mother as a result of what the mother went through throughout the process,” he explained.
The process he references is the application for relief assistance through the city’s pandemic relief fund. But according to Ms. James and court testimony, she was receiving financial assistance from the Community Action Council. Sometimes the money might arrive a little late, but it was being delivered. Technically, James and her two children weren’t evicted from their apartment, they were given notice that their lease would not be renewed. That action taken by the landlord in no way violated a court order that prevented eviction in this case.
“Landlords have bills to pay and those don’t stop. They have insurance, they have upkeep, all of the things to keep the housing where it needs to be for the tenant,” Paull said.
Very recently, Governor Andy Beshear hand-delivered more than 11 million dollars to the city of Lexington in new federal pandemic relief money to help with these very situations. The Community Action Council was doing the work to ensure that money was dispersed in the proper directions. In this case, it appears as if the process was working, except for a landlord’s desire, and right, to not offer a lease renewal.
But if some of that money is being, or was, held up and it impacted Ms. James or any other family negatively, Paull and Wilson hope this tragedy will serve as a wake-up call.
“There’s a lot of people that should feel this and hopefully that will spur something so something good comes from it, even though it’s a terrible thing,” Paull stated.