Nikki Cappello will stand trial in connection with her husband's poisoning death sometime in 2021

By Chris Harris
August 27, 2020 01:07 PM
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Jim and Nikki Cappello
| Credit: Courtesy Jamie West

On the long drive from Florida to Alabama to join the search for her missing brother, Jim Cappello, nurse Jamie Weast kept thinking back to something he told her only a week earlier. The two siblings were on the phone, discussing his strained, eight-year marriage to Nikki Cappello, the mother of his 4-year-old daughter.

"He told me that if he was ever found dead, it's because Nikki did it," Weast tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I sort of shrugged it off, because I didn't think he was serious. You just would never think that you could be so close to someone who would be capable of doing something like this."

As Jamie and her husband pulled up to Jim's Huntsville home on Sept. 22, 2018, they arrived to the sight of yellow police tape.

"My heart sunk and I was nauseous," Weast says. "I prayed and prayed and prayed so hard that perhaps maybe, somehow, in some miraculous way, it wasn't him. I didn't want it to be him. It couldn't be him. I begged the Lord to not let it be him, but a detective pulled me aside and it was him."

After showing up with a search warrant a day after Nikki allegedly refused to let them search their garage, police recovered the body of Jim, a self-employed private detective who had been investigating his wife's suspected drug abuse.

According to police, Nikki allegedly poisoned Jim using insulin she obtained from her work as a nurse at a local hospital. On the day they found Jim's corpse, police also discovered a partially-dug hole in the couple's backyard.

"She's giving nurses a bad name," Weast says. "We take care of people. We hold their hands during their last breath. People die in our arms and we take that to heart. How was she able to do this to a healthy individual that she loved? I just don't know."

Nikki was arrested and charged with murder the day Jim's body was found. Two days later, she posted bond, and ever since, has been living in the home the couple once shared. She denies killing her husband, and will stand trial sometime in 2021.

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Nikki, now 34, surrendered her nursing license immediately after her arrest. She did not respond to PEOPLE's calls for comment, nor did her attorney.

An indictment obtained by PEOPLE confirms Cappello is accused of slowly poisoning Jim, who was reported missing by Nikki the day before his body was found. Police allegedly discovered his car in the driveway when they met with Nikki hours later.

Nikki Cappello
| Credit: Madison County Jail

Weast says her food-adoring, quick-with-a-joke brother had been investigating his own wife, amassing evidence of Nikki's alleged addiction to painkillers, but was not thinking about divorcing her and taking their only child.

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"He never spoke to any lawyers," Weast says. "He knew she had an out-of-control pill problem, and he started investigating her, looking through her bags. He had a GPS on her, and started looking into things more, and he wanted her to have an intervention. He took all this information he had collected, and he was devastated. He brought it to her loved ones and showed them everything, and was like, 'Help me help her. I want to have an intervention and I need your help.' But they never came through with it, and it was just not too long after that that he was found dead."

If convicted, Nikki faces life in prison.

Today, Weast, who has three children of her own, is taking care of the couple's little girl, and plans to seek full custody of her niece after the criminal trial concludes. A GoFundMe campaign has been organized online on behalf of the girl.

According to Weast, Jim's investigation into his wife's alleged drug use was driven solely by his love for his daughter.

"He didn't want her under Nikki's care — not if she was abusing drugs," Weast explains. "Nikki needs to be behind bars, because she thought this through and she was willing to get rid of her daughter's father, and screw up her life. She will be a teen one day and she will Google her dad's name and she will have questions that I don't know that we'll ever get the answers to."

Adds Weast: "Jim was somebody's brother, and son, and grandson, and best friend, and cousin. He was well-known in his community, and brought great people together. It's a tragedy, and it is mind-boggling."