Published November 17, 2014
The 17-year-old daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Thailand slipped off her shoes and climbed out onto a window ledge Friday at a Manhattan apartment before plummeting more than 20 stories to her death, police said.
Nicole John fell at about 4:15 a.m. from the top floor of the 25-story Herald Towers, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Her body landed on a third-floor ledge, a camera nearby. It's not clear whether she had been trying to take a photo when she died, and her death is believed to be accidental.
The girl's father, Eric John, was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand in 2007.
John, an incoming freshman at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, was thought to have been drinking. Ilan Nassimi, 25, who rents the apartment, was arrested later Friday on charges of giving alcohol to a minor, police said. He was awaiting arraignment in Manhattan court and it wasn't clear if he had a lawyer.
Police say John had been out with partying with friends at Tenjune, a club in the trendy Meatpacking District, before the group headed back to Nassimi's apartment at West 34th Street near the Empire State Building at around 2 a.m. Friday.
Police believe the apartment might have been cleaned up by the time investigators arrived, but they think about a dozen people were there and had been drinking.
The medical examiner was scheduled to perform an autopsy and toxicology tests Saturday.
John had graduated from the International School in Bangkok and had a fake Brazilian ID that gave her age as 23 or 24.
Pages from a blog believed to be hers portray a smart, artistic young girl with a wild streak, eager to begin college. "Reading. Partying. Lucid dreaming. Night terrors. Deep eyes. Good food" she wrote as a description of herself on a Tumblr site, a hodgepodge of quotes, photos and journal entries.
"My childhood is over but that doesn't mean playtime is," another entry reads.
In one entry a week ago she references her Brazilian ID, saying she'd never been caught using it. "It's really good, it's never been rejected," she wrote.
In other entries, she posits on what her life will be like after college and how she's looking forward to returning to New York.
"I go back August 17th. I love Bangkok, but it's so toxic for my mind," she wrote. "I'm not happy here; not like I am in NYC. Oh well, there's downs and then there's ups. Just gotta get up outta that gutter."
Kristin Kneedler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, said they were just getting details and had no immediate comment.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the John family during this very difficult time," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "We ask that you respect their privacy as they mourn the tragic loss of their daughter Nicole."
An aunt reached in Kentucky said the family had no comments beyond what the state department said.
Parsons said in a statement that the university's management team was working to provide comfort and support to those affected by John's death.
"Losing a member of the community is extremely difficult for students, faculty and staff just as we begin a new semester," the school said in a statement.
The building manager was called by someone in the apartment who noticed John wasn't there, and he found John's body and called authorities, police said. Witnesses on the street also called 911.