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Crime News Sins of the South

Private Investigator Helps Police Obtain Confession in "Very Violent" Murder of Army Medic

"He just says, ‘I hit her until she wasn’t alive anymore,’” said a district attorney of the confession.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

On Monday, April 16, 2012, 23-year-old Army medic Kelli Bordeaux failed to show up for formation at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC.

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“We knew immediately that something was wrong,” Sgt. Kaydi Farr, a friend and fellow soldier, told Sins of the South, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.

The search for Kelli Bordeaux

Kelli’s husband, Michael Bordeaux, 25, was in Florida with his family at this time. He said he’d spoken to his wife on Friday. He was “really concerned” that she hadn’t shown up for work,” said Farr.

The Army investigation unit found Kelli’s car at her residence, but there was no sign of her. This prompted officials to contact the Fayetteville law enforcement. “We definitely have a sense of urgency to find Kelli,” said Cumberland County District Attorney William "Billy" West.

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Mike Bordeaux gave Fayetteville police officers permission to search his and his wife’s apartment. No signs of a struggle were found. "However, her ID, her phone, her personal effects were not there,” said West.

Bordeaux’s financial records were subpoenaed, along with her phone history in order to determine the location of its last ping.

Who was Kelli Bordeaux?

Pfc. Kelli Bordeaux hailed from St. Cloud, Florida. Ambitious and dedicated to her career, her goal was to become a medical officer in the Army.

“From everything that we heard, she was not the type of person that would just fall off the grid,” said Cumberland County DA’s Office investigator Charlie Disponzio.

While Kelli was thriving in the military, Mike struggled to find work and fit into the surroundings. “It took a toll on them,” said West 

Mike had originally told investigators that he was visiting family in Florida, but they learned he'd actually been living there for a few months.

“There was no plan to get back together,” said West. “Mike was upset and Kelli had been very clear about that."

Kelli Bordeaux smiles in Sins of the South Season 1 Episode 9.

Kelli Bordeaux’s boyfriend emerges 

Amid the investigation, Kelli’s sister, Olivia Cox, told police that Kelli went out to a bar on Friday, April 13. She also informed officials that Kelli was dating Justin Thompson, a man from St. Cloud.

“That certainly piqued our interest,” said West. “She was married. Now we have a boyfriend.”

Thompson told police that he was in St. Cloud at a concert with friends and that he and Kelli texted throughout the evening. He mentioned that she Kelli had been at Froggy Bottoms, a bar a half a mile from her home. She was socializing with Nicholas “Nick” Holbert, a 25-year-old local.  

A week earlier, Thompson had come to Fayetteville. He and Kelli met Holbert then at Froggy Bottoms, detectives learned. Shortly after midnight on April 14, Kelli had texted Thompson that Holbert was driving her home. 

At 12:46 a.m., she texted that she was going home and then, about 45 minutes later, she texted that she was drunk and going to bed, according to Sins of the South.

The messages concerned Thompson, who questioned why it took so long to drive half a mile. In addition, the second text didn’t sound like Kelli to him, according to detectives.

“He told us that he had tried to reach out to law enforcement on Saturday,” said West. Investigators prioritized questioning both Thompson and Holbert, NBC News reported.

Nick Holbert wears an orange prison jumpsuit in Sins of the South Season 1 Episode 9.

Who was Nick Holbert?

“We found out that Nick actually worked there at the bar as a barback,” said West.

Holbert lived in the woods near the watering hole. “Nick was basically homeless,” said Disponzio. “He used his car and a lean-to.” 

At the police station, Holbert said that around 1 a.m. on April 14, he drove Kelli home. There were no security cameras near Kelli’s residence. “We couldn’t confirm or deny what we were hearing,” said West. 

A search of Holbert’s car turned up no evidence of foul play. At the same time, local media reported Kelli’s disappearance and witnesses were urged to call Crime Stoppers with any information.

What Kelli Bordeaux’s Phone Records Revealed

Investigations learned that the last cell phone ping from Kelli’s phone was off a tower near Froggy Bottoms. “The bar and her apartment are very close together,” said West. “But there is a lot of wooded area within that boundary.”

A search for Kelli was organized and hundreds of people joined in, according to Sins of the South. However, the effort turned up no leads. 

Local Investigation Ramps Up 

After hearing appeals from Kelli’s family, bounty hunter-turned private investigator David Marshburn became determined to solve the case. 

“I have a military background and that’s what got my attention,” said Marshburn, adding that as he watched Holbert’s news interview his experience as a bounty hunter convinced him that Holbert was involved in the disappearance.

Marshburn reached out to Fayetteville PD to let them know he was doing an independent investigation. 

The response was “‘You do your investigation, and we’ll do our investigation,’” Marshburn said. “‘ But if you have information you want to give us, we’ll take it.’”

When police confirmed the alibis of Mike Bordeaux and Justin Thompson, both men were cleared. Holbert remained a suspect. 

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Nick Holbert’s sex offense comes to light

As they focused on Holbert, police learned that he was a registered sex offender. He’d had “inappropriate sexual conduct with a 5-year-old,” said West. “He pled guilty and spent six years in prison.”

Investigators discovered that Holbert was violating his parole by declaring that he was living with relatives when he was holed up in his car. In response, he was sent back to prison for a year.

While Holbert was behind bars, Marshburn searched the woods near Froggy Bottoms with a cadaver dog. He found no evidence.

By May 2013, a year after Kelli vanished, the case had stalled. Holbert was released from prison.

Marshburn put a plan in action to develop a relationship with Holbert. The investigator asked Holbert for his help in his search for Kelli. “I’m not on your side,” Marshburn assured the suspect. 

Marshburn hired Holbert for odd jobs and helped him pay off debt. “Money makes people trust everything,” explained Marshburn. 

A mugshot of Nick Holbert featured in Sins of the South Season 1 Episode 9.

Over time, Holbert’s trust in and reliance on Marshburn grew. Holbert confided that he was worried that he was being watched by police.

Marshburn used that information to unnerve Holbert. He enlisted a friend to act like an undercover cop and park outside Holbert’s residence. Marshburn also convinced Holbert that he was about to be indicted.

Kelli Bordeaux’s Remains Found 

On May 13, 2014, Marshburn’s plan paid off in full. He had driven Holbert back to Froggy Bottoms. “I put my hand on his shoulder and I said, ‘Did you do something to Kelli?’” said Marshburn. “He said, ‘I killed her.’”

Holbert led Marshburn to Kelli’s apparent remains, which were buried a number of miles into the woods, NBC News reported. “I was excited and sad at the same time,” said Marshburn. He contacted police upon discovering the grave.

An autopy showed that she died from blunt-force trauma, according to myfox8.com.

“What Holbert says in his confession is that at some point, someone at the bar told Kelli about his sex offense,” said West.

Holbert claimed she called him names, so he hit her and knocked her out, investigators said. That’s when he used her cell phone to text Thompson.

“He just says, ‘I hit her until she wasn’t alive anymore,’” said West. “But she had skull fractures, her jaw was dislocated, teeth missing. So it was a very violent attack.” 

Holbert was charged with first degree murder and kidnapping. Holbert took a deal of life imprisonment without parole, rather than face the death penalty at trial, NBC affiliate WYFF reported.

Kelli’s mother gave Marshburn her daughter’s dog tags. “I’m never going to part with them,” he said.

For more on “The Lost Soldier of Fort Bragg” case, watch Sins of the South, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.

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