A life of heroism -- and violence
A man who knew Nicholaou believes 'he preyed on women'
BY CARLOS SANTOS
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Michael Andrew Nicholaou ended his life on New Year's Eve in 2005 after he fatally shot Aileen Chambers, his wife whom he had met through personal ads seven years before.
The 56-year-old Vietnam veteran shot himself. Somehow, one of the two shots also killed his stepdaughter, 22-year-old Taryn Brown.
The shootings occurred in Tampa, Fla., as police closed in on the house, summoned by neighbors who had heard yelling.
Nicholaou, a New Jersey native, had a heroic and violent past. He flew a helicopter in Vietnam and won 15 medals, though he suffered forever after with post-traumatic stress disorder.
At one point, he and seven soldiers were to be tried for firing at civilians in Vietnam, according to news accounts from that time. But the charges were dropped. He served in the Army from 1968 to 1971.
His first wife, Michelle Ashley, the mother of two of his children, vanished in 1988 from Massachusetts.
Florida private investigator Lynn-Marie Carty was hired to find Ashley five years ago by Ashley's family, who believe Nicholaou killed her.
In researching Nicholaou's life, Carty began to suspect that he may have been involved in murders of women that occurred in the 1980s in New Hampshire and Vermont, and notified authorities. Police there are looking at Nicholaou as a possible suspect, according to news accounts.
Nicholaou, who had lived in New England, Virginia, New York and Texas, spent several years in the Charlottesville area working for police as an informant and then running a porn shop that he opened in 1983. He ran the shop in a small shopping center near the downtown as a co-owner for several years.
Nicholaou told reporters then he was "one of the good guys."
Robert Almirola, the brother-in-law of the slain Aileen Chambers, said he saw how Nicholaou could get crazy with women.
"He told me he had killed before and had been in the Mafia and had to do things," Almirola said.
Almirola said Nicholaou would sometimes, for no reason, begin to chant about women using a coarse word.
"He'd have a crazy look on his face," he said. "This guy was no good. I think he preyed on women."
Contact staff writer Carlos Santos at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 295-9542.
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