U.S. News

California man accused of stabbing to death parents, sons and dog

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man allegedly stabbed to death his parents, his two young sons and the family’s dog at a home in a coastal community before telling police who arrested him it was his “destiny” to kill them, authorities said on Tuesday.

Nicholas Holzer is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. REUTERS/Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said 45-year-old Nicolas Holzer was booked into jail on four counts of murder and is being held without bail.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the house in Goleta, a town of about 30,000 residents some 10 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, just after 11 p.m. on Monday, Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said in a statement.

Holzer had phoned 911, she said, “and in a calm and matter of fact manner told a dispatcher that he had killed his family, which included his parents, two sons and the family dog.”

He was taken into custody without incident, after which officers found the four victims and an Australian Shepherd-type dog, all deceased, each suffering from multiple stab wounds.

“Sheriff’s deputies recovered two large kitchen knives that are believed to be the murder weapons,” Hoover added.

“Holzer subsequently told detectives he had killed his family to fulfill what he believed was his destiny,” the statement said.

“He claimed to have killed his father first, then the children, then his mother and finally the family dog. When asked why he committed these crimes, he claimed ‘I had to.’”

The victims were Holzer’s parents, William Holzer, 73, and Sheila Holzer, 74, and his two sons, 13-year-old Sebastian Holzer and Vincent Holzer, 10.

The sheriff’s office said it had not had any prior documented contact with Holzer, except for an assault case from 1996 in which he was a witness.

“He does not appear to have any criminal history and there have not been any law enforcement calls for service at the residence the past several years,” Hoover said.

The sheriff’s office said Holzer obtained full custody of his sons following a divorce eight or nine years ago, and that they had been living with his parents for the past seven years.

Autopsies on all of the victims are pending, it said, adding that Holzer also faces a charge of animal cruelty.

Reporting by Dana Feldman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech