Louisiana exotic dancer pleads to manslaughter: Woman shot, car burned

Published 11:26 am Saturday, September 8, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A male exotic dancer and barber has admitted to shooting a 31-year-old woman and setting her car on fire with her body in the trunk, a Louisiana prosecutor said Friday.

Thayon Samson, 33, pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter and other charges in the death of Lindsay Nichols of Des Allemands, about 25 miles southwest of New Orleans, according to a news release from Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office.

His DNA was found on bloodstained basketball shorts in the trunk with Nichols’ body in June 2015, prosecutors said.

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Her family approved the agreement, including the maximum 40-year sentence for manslaughter, a news release said.

“This truly was one of the most horrific crimes seen in New Orleans in recent years,” Cannizzaro said. “While this guilty plea cannot bring this young woman back to her loved ones, it does at least spare them the agony of hearing her anguished final moments recounted at trial.”

Nichols made a frantic call to 911 at 4:48 a.m. June 21, 2015, saying a man was pointing a gun at her and had her car keys, according to the news release.

An investigation found that the operator waited eight minutes to send officers and did not tell them about the emergency or the gun. After looking around a parking lot for 15 minutes, the officers marked the complaint “unfounded.” The 911 operator later resigned under investigation, according to the news release.

Firefighters found Nichols’ body at about 7:15 a.m. in the Honda Accord, which had been set aflame on a deserted stretch of highway. Nola.com ‘ The Times-Picayune quoted the arrest report in 2015 as saying she had been killed by “numerous gunshot wounds.”

The arrest report quoted friends as saying Nichols left a nightclub in eastern New Orleans around 4 a.m. after meeting Samson and getting his phone number. She called him at 4:11 a.m. and 4:18 a.m., according to phone data.

Then she called 911.

“As the call progressed,” the warrant affidavit said, “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.”

Samson had been scheduled for trial Monday on a charge of second-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence. He pleaded guilty as charged to second-degree kidnapping, obstruction of justice and solicitation for murder.

Co-defendant Troy Varnado Jr., 30, remains scheduled for trial Sept. 17 on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.