When the late Nicol Scolaro's belongings were returned to family, Paul La Due's relatives were surprised to hear last weekend a ring was in her possession.
But not too surprised.
At a recent family gathering, Paul La Due introduced himself and his new girlfriend in a way that garnered some light chuckles.
“Hi, I’m Paul. This is Nicky. My first wife and my fourth wife,” he said.
Paul, 51, and Nicol, 49, had just recently reconnected after their previous marriage ended more than 25 years ago. They had spent a short time together recently, but already were planning another marriage.
It was met with excitement from family members, especially considering Nicol recently left a long-term abusive boyfriend.
Over a three-week period, they attended three family get-togethers – a sign of happiness to come, family members believed.
Now, the memory of those three weekends will last a lifetime for the family. The couple was murdered at some point during the week of June 17 in Paul's Ottawa home. A specific date of death has not been released as the police investigation is ongoing. Nicol's abuser, Christopher Stankovich, was developed as a suspect just prior to killing himself a day after the bodies were found.
Paul was a do-it-yourselfer with endless energy
Paul's brother, Rick La Due, 56, discovered the murdered couple at the Ottawa home.
He said letters filled the mailbox and boxes of security camera equipment were left unopened on the porch.
“He enjoyed life; he loved life,” Rick said. “He didn’t sit around waiting for things to happen. He always made things happen.”
Rick said his brother was "unapologetic and brilliant" with an interest in loud music and fast cars. The brothers had a shared hobby for music and listened to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin on vinyl – Paul always wanted the best audio quality.
He was a do-it-yourselfer who re-did the entire interior of his Ottawa home, helped Rick with his own home and built high-quality speakers at less than half the cost of name brand speakers that sounded better, too.
“I don’t know where he got his energy from. I think his mind always had so much going on and just wouldn’t let him rest,” Rick said.
Rick said Paul struggled to apply himself when they were growing up in Aurora. He had gotten in trouble in the past and spent time in jail before finding a direction in life and applying it toward a career.
Victim decided to stay with ex-husband rather than leave area
Paul also developed a deep empathy for others, which led in part to his offering of support to his former wife, Nicol, when she was leaving an abusive relationship.
The two connected at their son Cody’s house while Paul was preparing to take Cody’s family to the airport and Nicol was preparing to leave town.
“They were playing with their grandkids and it was described to us that they locked eyes playing with the baby and...” said Rick’s wife, Angel, as her voice trailed off.
“Realized they still had feelings for each other,” Rick said.
Paul offered Nicol a place to live in Ottawa until her brother from Florida could pick her up, but old feelings were reignited and she decided to stay with Paul.
She posted a few comments on Facebook suggesting she had left for Florida, in an attempt to confuse her ex-boyfriend, but Rick said a shared friend told Christopher.
A weekend before the murders, one of Paul’s tires in his prized blue Chevrolet Camaro went flat. At first, it was thought to be something he ran over, but then the others went flat and it became apparent they were slashed.
The Ottawa Police Department confirmed two newly opened cases were under investigation just prior to the couple's death. One was a report of criminal damage to property involving Paul's vehicle on Monday, June 17, and another violation of an order of protection on Wednesday, June 19, in the form of text messages between Christopher and Nicol.
Ottawa police had made multiple attempts to contact Christopher after both reports were made and phone messages were not returned. Ottawa police were in the process of collecting evidence and searching for camera footage of the neighborhood regarding the complaint of damage while the complaint of violation of an order of protection was forwarded to the state's attorney's office.
Rick said a couple of days after the tires were slashed, Nicol’s Facebook page became active with a post that said she had gotten back with Christopher and he wasn’t abusive as she had earlier stated.
“We were dumbfounded,” Rick said. “This can’t be real. Already? There’s no way. We were reeling.”
Rick and Angel went to the house and Rick found the couple deceased.
“I knew they were concerned about what Chris might do. I don’t think they thought this is what would happen,” he said.
Brother: ‘They felt they belonged together’
Rick doesn’t think about that moment when he thinks of Paul and Nicol. Instead, he focuses on the three weekends prior to their murder and the laughter and smiles that were shared.
“Every time we looked at them they looked completely content, happy and satisfied,” Rick said.
The family is still having difficulty reconciling the loss of their loved ones and the context surrounding their death, but they don’t spend much time wondering if Paul or Nicol should have done things differently.
“There’s a lot of woulda, coulda, shouldas. If she would have went to Florida with her brother for a month maybe it would have given him time to blow off, but it’s nobody’s fault but Chris’ fault,” Rick said. “(Leaving for Florida) was the plan and she tried to play it off like that. But they didn’t want to be apart. They felt they belonged together.”