Man arrested in Goleta-area stabbing deaths of parents, sons

Man arrested in Goleta-area stabbing deaths of parents, sons
Investigators remove a body from a Santa Barbara County home where four people were found stabbed to death. (Steve Malone / Associated Press)

A 45-year-old man was arrested inside his Goleta-area home Monday night, where authorities allege he stabbed his father, mother and two sons to death "to fulfill what he believed was his destiny."

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown identified the suspect Tuesday as Nicolas Holzer, telling reporters the man called 911 shortly after 11 p.m. and told a dispatcher he had killed his family.


When deputies arrived at the home in the 600 block of Walnut Park Lane, sheriff's officials said, Holzer met them at the front door. After taking him into custody, deputies began searching the house and discovered the bodies.

The family's Australian shepherd was dead in a hallway, officials said. Holzer's 73-year-old father, William, was dead in the den. His 74-year-old mother, Sheila, was in the doorway of a bedroom. The bodies of Holzer's sons -- 13-year-old Sebastian and 10-year-old Vincent -- were inside the bedroom.

Holzer told detectives he killed his family shortly before calling 911, officials said. When detectives asked why, they said that he responded: "I had to."

Detectives believe Holzer killed his father first, Brown said, and then his sons, who were sleeping. The mother was thought to be the last victim.

Two large kitchen knives recovered from the home were thought to be the murder weapons, officials said. Autopsies on the victims have yet to be completed.

Brown told reporters his department had no previous contact with the suspect, other than a 1996 assault case in which he was a witness. There was no apparent criminal history, he said.

"There's nothing that springs out in terms of any motive or any event that would have preceded this terrible crime," Brown said.

Detectives are looking into Holzer's mental health, Brown said.

Sheriff's officials said that Holzer obtained full custody of his sons nearly a decade ago, and that the three had been living at the home of Holzer's parents for seven years.

Holzer was arrested on suspicion of murder and held without bail, Brown said. An animal cruelty charge was also being considered.

Brown noted that the slayings were "another huge tragedy" for the community. Goleta is adjacent to Isla Vista, the beachside community where authorities allege Elliot Rodger killed six people during a rampage earlier this year.

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