WASHINGTON — A Ph.D. student and employee of the University of Notre Dame has been charged with stalking her ex-boyfriend of three months and gunning him down inside an apartment in Washington, D.C.
Nijinsky Latassia Dix, 37, of South Bend, Indiana, is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the fatal shooting of Terry Hickman, 44, on Saturday.
Dix serves as the director of Notre Dame’s Talent Search and Upward Bound programs, or TRiO programs. According to the university’s website, the federal outreach programs are designed to “assist young people from low-income families and potential first-generation college students as they progress from middle school, high school, college and beyond.”
That involves tutoring and academic counseling in South Bend’s schools, the South Bend Tribune reported.
“The University is aware of her arrest and will cooperate with law enforcement as appropriate,” University of Notre Dame spokesperson Paul Browne told the newspaper.
According to Dix’s university bio, she is also currently studying at the University of Illinois at Chicago for her Ph.D. in gender studies. She is also active in the South Bend chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Officials from D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department said officers were called around 5:26 p.m. Saturday to the Eliot on 4th apartment building in the 1000 block of 4th Street SW for the sound of gunshots and reports of a woman with a gun. When they arrived, they found Hickman dead of gunshot wounds inside his fifth-floor apartment.
Dix was taken into custody at the scene. She is being held without bond in the Central Detention Facility.
An affidavit written by Detective Luke French, of the Metropolitan Police Department, describes in painstaking detail the scene investigators came upon. Hickman was found dead in his living room.
According to his autopsy, he was shot five times, at least once from close range. He was shot multiple times in the head, neck and face, and once in the arm, the affidavit states.
Bullet holes, ricochet marks, shell casings and at least one spent bullet were found in the living room and bedroom of the apartment. A black Ruger Security-9 handgun was on the floor near Hickman’s body.
To the right of his body was a single long fingernail, the affidavit states.
When detectives questioned the first officers on the scene, they said they’d arrived to hear the sound of a woman’s screams for help from inside Hickman’s apartment. She refused to open the door, so they obtained a master key fob and used it to enter the apartment.
Hickman was facedown on the living room floor, and the woman, Dix, was kneeling at his feet.
“Officers commanded the defendant to show her hands,” the affidavit states. “The defendant raised her left hand and was observed to be holding a handgun in the left hand.”
The officers demanded she drop the weapon and she complied. At that point, Dix was placed in handcuffs.
According to French, the officers could hear a voice coming from a cellphone in a pink wallet case. When they spoke to the woman on the other end, she identified herself as Dix’s mother.
“The individual stated the defendant called her and stated, ‘He pushed me and I shot him,’” French wrote.
The phone case contained a Florida driver’s license identifying Dix, who is a native of Jacksonville.
It also contained Dix’s Notre Dame employee identification card.
Dix was taken to an area hospital for treatment of any injuries, and staff there observed an abrasion to the inside of her lower lip, according to the court document. A doctor later told investigators she complained only of pain in her back, but did not explain how she may have injured it.
She had no physical signs of trauma and did not indicate she’d been assaulted.
The doctor said Dix reported a period of blacking out and a loss of memory, so a CT scan was conducted.
When detectives spoke to Dix, she “appeared upset and despondent,” but offered few answers to their questions, the affidavit states.
The detectives also spoke to two witnesses while at the hospital. The witnesses said they’d just parked their car outside the apartment building when they heard three loud pops that they at first thought were fireworks being shot off one of the balconies.
One witness recalled hearing a woman scream, “Oh my God,” French wrote. The woman also screamed out some names that the witness thought were either Derrick or Jared.
“Witness 1 stated that (he) observed a woman pacing back and forth who appeared as if she needed some help,” the affidavit states. “Witness 1 was able to see the woman because the woman’s blinds were halfway lifted.”
As the second witness called 911, the first witness yelled at the woman to see if she needed help. Additional tenants came to their windows, trying to see what was going on.
The witness told detectives as the woman paced, he could see what looked like a gun in one of her hands and a cellphone in the other, according to the document.
“Witness 1 stated that (he) does not know guns well and did not want to fully commit to what the woman was holding,” French wrote. “Witness 1 stated that the woman was in distress and appeared to be trying to figure out to call for help or something.”
The second witness echoed some of what the first told investigators but said he could only see the woman’s silhouette and could not tell if she was holding anything.
Residents in neighboring apartments also told detectives they heard gunshots and a woman screaming. One neighbor said he could hear the woman screaming for someone to “please wake up.”
One of the more vital witnesses was a friend of Hickman’s who had seen him with Dix less than an hour before the fatal shooting. The witness, identified as Witness 3, said he’d just come back from Pentagon City Mall and had parked in the parking garage when he heard Hickman call out to him.
Dix was with Hickman. The witness recognized her because they’d met before and he described her as a “professor at Notre Dame,” the affidavit states.
After learning of the shooting on the fifth floor at the back of the building, the witness tried calling Hickman because he knew Hickman lived there. The calls went unanswered.
Read the affidavit in support of Nijinsky Dix’s arrest below.
Another resident sent Witness 3 a photo of Dix being wheeled on a gurney out of the building and to a waiting ambulance. The witness showed the photo to detectives and said that was the woman he’d seen with Hickman in the parking garage, the court document states.
Detectives interviewed Hickman’s next of kin, identified in court records as his child. They learned that Hickman had sold a couch to someone around 4 p.m. that day because he was moving to Chicago and “had found someone new.”
Hickman’s family told investigators that Hickman had casually dated Dix for three months, ending in May. Dix, who would fly from Indiana to D.C. to see Hickman, had begun stalking him and, despite living in another state, had managed to find where Hickman lived, the affidavit states.
She had allegedly called Hickman’s child on his birthday, which the child found “weird,” and had called Hickman’s sister, “attempting to be friendly.”
When Dix was taken to the police station for questioning, she complained of trouble with her memory. She also complained again of back pain but could not explain the cause of the pain.
Dix was able to tell detectives her name but said she could not remember her date of birth or where she lived, though she knew she didn’t live in D.C. According to the affidavit, she said she didn’t know how she’d gotten to D.C.
When the interviewers asked if she owned a gun, she said she’d bought a “baby gun” prior to the presidential election.
Dix asked detectives several times for information that might “jog her memory” of what had happened, so they showed her a photo of Hickman and asked if she knew him.
“The defendant began crying and repeating, ‘Get it away from me,’” the affidavit states.
The detectives removed the photo from the room, at which point she asked them to make sure he was gone.
“Please make sure he is gone, make sure he is not near me, make sure Terry not near me,” she said, according to French. “You don’t do people you love like that. That’s not love. I don’t want that.
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