Man kills family in belief he was fulfilling his 'destiny,' cops say

Authorities say man stabbed his family to death in Goleta because he believed it was 'his destiny.'

A man accused of fatally stabbing his parents, two children and family dog at their home in Santa Barbara County appears to have no criminal history or motive other than what authorities said was to fulfill "what he believed was his destiny."

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday that the suspect -- identified as Nicolas Holzer --had no previous contact with the Sheriff's Department beyond a 1996 assault case in which he was a witness.

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

Holzer called 911 shortly after 11 p.m. Monday and told a dispatcher he had killed his family, Brown said.

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

Detectives believe that Holzer first killed his 73-year-old father, William, and then his sons, 13-year-old Sebastian and 10-year-old Vincent,- who were sleeping. His 74-year-old mother, Sheila, was thought to be the last victim, Brown said.

The family's Australian shepherd was dead in a hallway, officials said.

Two large kitchen knives recovered from the home were thought to be the murder weapons, officials said. 

Detectives reported that when asked why he did it, Holzer responded: "I had to."

Sheriff's Department officials said 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.

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

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

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

Follow @katemather and @JosephSerna for more crime news from across California

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World