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Questions loom in homicide

Special Photo. Dominique "Nique" Leili is seen here with her husband Matt, who authorities said is now a suspect. Matt reported her missing July 11, telling police she'd vanished two days prior.

Special Photo. Dominique "Nique" Leili is seen here with her husband Matt, who authorities said is now a suspect. Matt reported her missing July 11, telling police she'd vanished two days prior.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Nique Leili met her husband online, in an AOL chatroom, about 15 years ago, and technology became a running theme in the relationship.

Both were computer-proficient. They married on Valentine's Day in 1998, and later operated a home business together building computers for clients.

Technology brought swarms of volunteer searchers together Saturday who found Nique's decomposed body a stone's throw from the Sidneys Cove home she and husband, Matt, had shared for years.

Nique's discovery, confirmed by dental records, signaled the end of a tense relationship friends and family of Nique's have described as rocky of late.

"Whenever I witnessed them, they would fight," said Nique's younger sister, Amy Elk, of Loganville.

When 44-year-old Nique (short for Dominique, and pronounced "Nikki") turned up beneath leaves and sticks, a few feet from residential Oak Village Lane, Elk's sisterhood trio was fractured. Continuing silence on the part of Matt, who has retained an attorney and stopped cooperating with police, has piqued suspicions among Elk and other family, she said.

Police this week called Matt, 43, a suspect, but have filed no charges. Nique's death is being probed as a homicide, though a cause of death was not apparent at the scene or after an autopsy. Further tests are pending.

"I'm letting police do their job," said Elk, the family's de facto spokeswoman. "I certainly have my opinions. We certainly want (Matt) investigated very strenuously."

So far, the husband has remained silent. The criminal defense attorney, Lyle Porter, Matt retained before his wife's body was discovered could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

As concern mounted for Nique among her family, Matt filed for divorce in Gwinnett Superior Court on Wednesday, claiming she'd abandoned him and their two daughters July 9 and demanded custody. An attorney representing Matt in the divorce proceedings declined comment.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith reiterated Tuesday that police have not made charges but hinted that police are speaking with others who could have knowledge of Nique's death.

"We aren't tracking or restraining (Matt's) movements, and he's not in our custody," Smith said. "All aspects of this case, including other suspects, are under active investigation."

Elk said her sister's minor children, ages 9 and 12, are home with their father, who has prevented family from reaching them, she said. She believes the girls are aware their mother is dead.

Nique's eldest daughter from a previous marriage, Alex, 19, has cooperated with police and had orchestrated the volunteer search -- via Facebook and Twitter -- that led to her mother's body, Elk said.

Police said Matt's father, who lives at the Sidneys Cove home, has also ceased talking to detectives.

Elk said funeral plans are stalled because her sister's body has not been released by medical examiners. The family was "aghast and appalled" to learn Matt hired a funeral home and tried to make funeral arrangements without informing Nique's family, Elk said.

Evidence of his controlling nature, as Elk recalled Tuesday, doesn't end there.

Elk said Matt equipped her sister's car with LoJack tracking gear, downloaded a tracking application to her cellphone and equipped the home with multiple security cameras as a means to keep tabs on his wife, she said.

"He just monitored everything, and everybody," Elk said. "He behaved like he was paranoid."

Elk said she never witnessed the couple being violent toward each other, but she had become privy to a domestic 911 call on June 28 when Nique told dispatchers her husband was barring her from leaving the home.

Responding officers spoke to both sides individually and advised them of family violence laws. Neither wanted to leave, Smith said.

Elk, 34, said her sister, raised in Fairburn, supported the family by handling finances for an Alpharetta computer group. She was two online courses short of a certified public accountant degree through the University of Phoenix, Elk said.

Nique, in her kid sister's eyes, was an exceptional mother who never missed a play or basketball practice. The two got together one last time in late June near Grayson, a girl's outing with their daughters replete with a nice lunch and manicured nails.

"It was fantastic, you know," Elk said. "We got to chum it up and be girly. To talk, laugh."

A candlelight vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Friday in the Oak Village neighborhood, at the top of Oak Village Lane where Nique's body was found. Friends are expected to attend from as far as Michigan and New Jersey.