The family of a housekeeper whose body was discovered along with her employers inside a Newport Beach home last month filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the estate of the couple, who police say were killed by their son.
Authorities say that Richard and Kim Nicholson’s adult son, Camden, killed housekeeper Maria Morse as well as his parents inside the family’s home. Their bodies were found by police on Feb. 13.
Morse, 62, had visited the Nicholson family home on a weekly basis to clean for more than 12 years, her family said. The lawsuit indicates the Nicholsons knew their son was “violent, aggressive and unstable” and should have taken steps to protect Morse. The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Camden Nicholson, 27, has been charged with three counts of murder in connection with the deaths. He has not entered a plea and is being held without bail in Orange County Jail.
Nicholson lived with his parents throughout much of 2018 before he left in mid-December without notice. While he lived with them, he threatened his parents, grew marijuana and used needles to inject himself with steroids, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit says Camden Nicholson “repeatedly told Kim Nicholson that he wanted to kill his father,” called him evil and expressed a desire to “gut him.” His mother was so frightened, the lawsuit says, that she briefly moved out of the home.
Nicholson’s parents had recently cut him off financially, according to court records. In the days prior to the killings, Nicholson sent his parents text messages and emails threatening to harm them, the lawsuit states.
“The family has described their son as having uncontrollable ’roid rage and violent and delusional behavior,” said attorney Edward Susolik, who is representing Morse’s family.
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 laptop and phone records as well as other materials but never located Nicholson during that time.
At the time of the slayings, Youssef was preparing to publish “missing” posts with pictures of Nicholson in the hope the public could help find the man, he said.
During the seven years Nicholson lived in the gated community with his parents, he acted erratically, claimed he had seizures and was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to socialize, Youssef said.
Youssef said he found that Nicholson had used a credit card belonging to his father during a hotel stay where he charged excessive tips and spent $15,000 in one transaction.
“It is clear that the Nicholson family knew that Camden was spiraling out of control and a danger to others, yet they continued inviting Maria to come on a weekly basis to clean their house while taking no steps to protect her safety,” Susolik said.
Times staff writer Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.