A 27-year-old man charged in the killings of his parents and their housekeeper had been living in their Newport Beach home with the dead bodies for days before he drove his father’s new BMW to a hospital and summoned police, according to investigators.
Camden Nicholson is facing three counts of murder and possible sentencing enhancements for multiple killings, authorities said. He is being held at the Theo Lacy Jail facility without bail.
Nicholson killed his parents — Kim and Richard Nicholson — inside their home on Palazzo on Feb. 11 and, a day later, killed the family’s housekeeper — Maria Morse — when she arrived at the house, prosecutors allege. Morse’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit this month against the dead couple’s estate, alleging they knew their son was dangerous and should have taken steps to protect their housekeeper.
Newport Beach police Det. Richard Henry wrote in a probable cause statement filed in court that when Nicholson called authorities on the night of Feb. 13, he told the police dispatcher that “he had just killed his parents.” Later, Nicholson told an officer they needed to go to his parents’ home, located in a gated community in Newport Beach, because there were “three dead bodies in the house,” Henry wrote.
It is not clear what prompted Nicholson to drive to the Kaiser hospital in Irvine that night, but he told police he killed his parents because he thought they were going to place him on a psychiatric hold, Henry wrote. Nicholson shook, spoke incoherently and was sweating when he spoke with officers at the hospital, leading the detective to suspect he had taken medications that were not prescribed to him.
When Newport Beach officers responded to the family’s home to conduct a welfare check, they were met with a grisly scene, according to the document. They knocked on the door and rang the doorbell, but there was no answer, so they walked into the backyard and entered the house through an unlocked sliding door.
The officers discovered Morse’s body on the floor of the walk-in pantry in the kitchen, and then found Kim Nicholson’s body lying face down against a wall inside the garage, Henry wrote. Richard Nicholson’s body was found in a downstairs closet near the guest bathroom. A barbecue fork was lying next to him.
Authorities have not disclosed specifically how the three were killed. However, Henry wrote that a knife or some blunt object, such as channellock pliers or the barbecue fork found inside the home, was likely used.
As he walked through the house, Henry wrote that he saw food containers scattered around in plain sight. A large tray of ribs that had meat eaten off the bone sat on the kitchen counter and cookies and a canister of whipped cream were in the bed in the master bedroom.
Based on surveillance videos and receipts, investigators suspect the food was purchased by Nicholson after the killings, according to the document. Authorities collected various receipts from the home as part of their investigation, including one from an upscale grocery store and another from an adult entertainment shop.
Hundreds of loose pills of various colors were strewn on the desk in the master bedroom and some of them had been crushed into “dust form,” Henry wrote.
Makeshift bandages that police found next to a computer in the master bedroom led Henry to suspect Nicholson had used the computer in the room after the killings to possibly look up “information related to homicide,” he wrote.
The night of his arrest at the hospital wasn’t the first time Nicholson had interacted with police. Officers had spoken with him at the Fashion Island Marriott after his mother reported him missing Dec. 15. At that time, they determined he was a voluntary missing adult and that there were no grounds to place him on a psychiatric hold.
Kim Nicholson had told police that her son had Asperger’s syndrome, suffered from depression and had anger issues.
Days before their deaths, Nicholson’s parents apparently hired a private investigator, Michael Youssef, to locate their son. Youssef told the Los Angeles Times last month that he was asked to find evidence that Nicholson was mentally incompetent so they could obtain a conservatorship in court.
Youssef said that during his five-day investigation, he found that Nicholson smoked excessive amounts of marijuana, took steroids and was addicted to pornography. The private eye said he scoured the a laptop and phone records as well as other materials, but never located Nicholson during that time.