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Former Playboy centerfold, son who died jumping from New York City hotel have ties to ND

Stephanie Adams (left) & Vincent Nicolai1 / 3
Stephanie Adams. Wikimedia Commons / Special to Forum Communications2 / 3
Vincent Nicolai. Evans Funeral Home / Special to Forum Communications3 / 3

NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — A funeral has been scheduled here for the 7-year-old boy caught in the middle of a bitter custody battle between his former Playboy centerfold mother and his father.

The funeral for Vincent Nicolai, 7, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 1, in this town about 60 miles north of Jamestown, according to an obituary listed in the Grand Forks Herald. A visitation will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 31, at Evans Funeral Home in New Rockford.

Nicolai died May 18 after fatally leaping with his mother off the 25th floor of a New York City hotel. His mother, 47-year-old Stephanie Adams, was a former Playboy playmate and 1992 November centerfold who was in a custody battle with her estranged ex-husband, Charles Nicolai, a New York City chiropractor.

The battle for custody of their son had heated up just a week before their deaths, the New York Post reported. During a May 15 court appearance, Charles Nicolai filed a motion for sole custody of the boy, the man's lawyer said in an interview with the New York Post. Then, a day later on May 16, Adams' request to take her son away for the summer to Spain was denied by a judge.

The relationship had become toxic to the point that Adams would meet Charles Nicolai — who had visitation rights for the boy — at a police station in Tribeca, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, according to a Page Six report.

William Beslow, Charles Nicolai's attorney, sent a statement via email on his clients behalf to Forum News Service that read:

"Charles is distraught over the loss of his beloved son Vincent, who was the center of his life and for Stephanie whom he cared for deeply. We request privacy during this difficult time for Charles and his family as they mourn and remember the memories of Vincent and Stephanie."

Charles Nicolai’s connection to North Dakota can be traced to his brothers, Michael and James Nicolai. Michael Nicolai, like his brother Charles, is a chiropractor with his own practice in New Rockford. James Nicolai is based in Bismarck and serves as the deputy solicitor general for North Dakota serving under Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Michael Nicolai and Charles Nicolai both attended Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, where Michael Nicolai graduated one year ahead of Charles Nicolai in 1994.

Michael Nicolai and his wife, Cheri, have lived in New Rockford since 1996 and have four children. He and business partner and colleague Zachary Smith own and operate Nicolai Chiropractic Center in New Rockford.

In an obituary posted on the Evans Funeral Home website, Vincent Nicolai was described as an accomplished artist both in painting and in music, despite only being 7 years old.

"He was just seven, but had already touched the lives of many and left behind sweet memories that will be forever treasured," the obituary reads. "His smile was captivating, his laugh infectious, and his wonder and curiosity about the world never-ending."

"Vincent's sheer abandon for life inspired all who knew him. You could venture all over New York City with Vincent and it wasn't a rare occasion for people from all walks of life to greet him by name and ask him how he was."

Ross Torgerson

Digital Reporter for Forum Communications. Native of Moorhead, Minn. Have a question or story idea? Email me at rtorgerson@forumcomm.com. Follow me on Twitter @RossTorgerson

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