Cleveland Journalist Killed by Her Uncle in Murder-Suicide, Police 'Trying to Figure Out Why'
Nikki Delamotte wrote about Cleveland's diverse communities
A popular Cleveland journalist was fatally shot by her uncle in a murder-suicide before their bodies were discovered Monday morning, police tell PEOPLE.
Lt. J. Matt Gezarek of the Perrysburg Township Police Department tells PEOPLE that Nicole “Nikki” Delamotte, 30, was shot multiple times by her 67-year-old uncle Robert Delamotte, who then turned the gun on himself.
Both were found dead in the same room of the uncle’s trailer, says Gezarek. Delamotte was shot twice in the torso and once in the head, he adds.
Delamotte, the author of the 2016 book 100 Things To Do in Cleveland Before You Die, wrote for Cleveland.com, which provides content to The Plain Dealer newspaper.
Gezarek said police don’t have a motive for the violence — “We are trying to figure out why,” he says — and don’t know when, exactly, it took place.
The pair had arranged to watch the Miami Dolphins vs. Green Bay Packers football game together at a bar, says Gezarek. Delamotte arrived at her uncle’s trailer at 4:16 p.m. on Sunday and was killed there before the pair left the trailer, police believe. Surveillance video recovered from the residence showed nobody entered or left during that time frame, leading police to believe it was a murder-suicide.
“Our newsroom is deeply shocked and grief-stricken at our colleague’s untimely passing,” the paper’s editorial board said in a statement. “Most of us cannot believe anyone that exceptional, that nice, that thoughtful, with gifts beyond her years, can be gone so soon. But measured by the many, many people Nikki touched, she isn’t gone in memory. Not by a long shot.”
According to the Plain Dealer, her mother, JoAnne Ullman, said Nikki and Robert had recently reconnected after the death of her maternal grandmother and planned to watch the game together.
“So she was going [to] go over and they were going go to some neighborhood bar and watch the game,” Ullman said.
When Delamotte didn’t return a text message from her mother later that night, Ullman filed a missing person report. Ullman told the paper she went to the trailer and discovered her daughter’s car with her cell phone and wallet inside. Once police arrived, she was told that the pair was dead.
Delamotte was known for writing about Cleveland’s diverse communities, including its artists and musicians. Her last feature focused on a Latino supermarket that expanded its in-store restaurant. In another story, she delved into mental health and addiction issues in Northeast Ohio’s restaurant and service industries.
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She was also a favorite among her colleagues.
“What I appreciated most were the unique perspectives she brought to brainstorm sessions — her ability to make me see things I would not have considered otherwise,” Cleveland.com editor Chris Quinn said, according to the paper. “She had strong positions and backed down from no one, but she did so with gentleness and, always, respect. She was such a bright light, and Cleveland has a dimmer future for her loss.”
“I’ve never met a journalist with a kinder heart,” Cleveland.com entertainment editor Mike Norman said.
“I’ve never met anyone with as much empathy as Nikki, and I wanted to be more like her,” entertainment reporter Anne Nickoloff said. “I still want to be more like her.”
Before she joined Cleveland.com in 2016, Delamotte wrote for Cleveland Scene, an alternative weekly newspaper.
A GoFundMe page has been launched in support of Nikki Delamotte’s loved ones.