Last week, we met the murderous Doug Clark and his equally lethal partner Carol Bundy. Clark’s habit of snatching victims from Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip earned him the moniker of the “Sunset Slayer.” For our crime this week, we look at the sad case of Spc. Kelli Bordeaux, a medic at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg. She disappeared on April 13, 2012—Friday the 13th—and remained missing for two years until investigators solved her murder.
You might not expect a former beauty queen and high school cheerleader to choose the military as a profession. Kelli Bordeaux, born and raised in St. Cloud, Florida, did just that. Kelli Marie Henson married a St. Cloud man, Mike Bordeaux, before beginning her Army career.
After she completed her basic training, the Army stationed Kelli at Fort Bragg, located near Fayetteville, North Carolina. Mike moved with her from Florida, and the two set up housekeeping in an off-base apartment. The Army assigned Kelli to the 261st Multifunction Medical Battalion as a combat medic.
Kelli Bordeaux Finds a Boyfriend
Life was not a bowl of roses for Kelli and her husband. Moving to another state was stressful enough. Adding to the stress, Mike couldn’t find a stady job and began drinking heavily—and often. The couple decided to take a break from each other. Mike returned to Florida while Kelli stayed in Fayetteville.
Perhaps, being alone, it was natural Kelli began an affair with Justin Thompson, a man she’d met in St. Cloud before she joined the Army. Kelli found herself enchanted with Justin. She told her sister, Olivia, she planned to divorce her husband. On the other hand, Mike had no idea his wife intended to replace him.
Kelli Bordeaux Disappears
On some of Justin’s weekend trips to Fayetteville to see Kelli, they went to a roadhouse called Froggy Bottoms. From pictures, it looks like a hole-in-the-wall dive bar you could find in any small town. Its appeal appears to have come from karaoke nights because Kelli liked karaoke.
During one of their visits to Froggy Bottoms, Kelli met Nicholas Holbert, who worked odd jobs around the place. He gave her his phone number and offered to bring her to the tavern after Justin returned home to Florida. Kelli accepted.
By all accounts, Kelli thought of Nick as no more than a drinking buddy. While she went with him to have fun and sing karaoke, he considered the meeting a date. No one knows if the two discussed their different expectations. Regardless, Kelli left the bar with Holbert sometime after midnight.
Later that night, Justin, the boyfriend back in Florida, got a text from Kelli’s cellphone. It read: “Got home safe … I’m going to bed … Call me tomorrow.” This text contrasted sharply with the one she sent before it. That message had begged Justin to call right away. He did indeed try to call Kelli the next day and kept calling all through the weekend. Kelli never answered, so he alerted her family.
The Search for Kelli Bordeaux
Kelli’s disappearance generated a massive response. Soldiers from Fort Bragg joined friends and concerned citizens in combing the Fayetteville area. The three men in Kelli’s life, Mike Bordeaux, Justin Thompson, and Nick Holbert, also joined the search.
Police start investigating murders or disappearances with those closest to the victim. They first took a long, hard look at Mike Bordeaux. However, he said he was at home in Florida when Kelli vanished, an alibi that detectives were able to verify. Mike first found out about his wife’s infidelity from detectives. Unsurprisingly, he pointed the finger of suspicion at the new man in her life.
For his part, Justin suspected Nick Holbert from the beginning.
Holbert told police he’d dropped Kelli off near her apartment. David Marshburn, a private investigator who conducted his own investigation into the case, remained skeptical. His suspicions multiplied when he learned Holbert was a homeless drifter living in his truck in a makeshift camp behind Froggy Bottoms.
Catching Kelli Bordeaux’s Killer
Suspicions went into overdrive when detectives discovered that Nicholas Holbert had been convicted of a sex offense. He’d assaulted and beaten a five-year-old girl when he was 16. At that time, investigators had no evidence linking him to Kelli’s disappearance (and presumed murder). But authorities did jail him for a year for his failure to register as a sex offender in Fayetteville.
With searches failing to locate Kelli or her body, PI Marshburn had an idea. He would befriend Holbert when he got out of jail. He buddied up to Nick, feeding him and giving him money when he had none. It took months and some intricate deceptions, but eventually, Holbert confessed to killing Kelli Bordeaux.
Holbert told investigators he waited for Kelli outside in his vehicle that fateful night. She remained inside to pay her tab. While paying, the bartender said to her, “Be careful of this guy. He’s a sex offender,” When she left, a shocked Kelli stormed past Holbert. The two exchanged harsh words. He ran up behind her, knocked her out, and laid her on the ground. Once he had her helpless, he stripped off her clothes and began raping her. She came to, and he beat her to death with a rock. Later, he buried her in nearby woods and returned to the bar.
He admitted using Kelli’s phone to send the suspicious text message to Justin Thompson and throwing it into a river afterward.
Nicholas Holbert pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He resides (2023) at the Roanoke River Correctional Institution in Halifax, North Carolina.
In March 2018, Dateline NBC aired an episode about Kelli Bordeaux’s murder titled Deep in the Woods.
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