Laguna Beach police are interviewing friends and associates of Damon Nicholson, who was found by a co-worker bludgeoned to death Oct. 23 in his Dolphin Way home.
Nicholson, 41, was the catering manager at the Hotel Laguna. He had not shown up for a scheduled appointment that day, Laguna Beach police Lt. Jason Kravetz said.
Nicholson was found on his couch in the secluded duplex on a quiet North Laguna street.
A sliding glass door was ajar, but Kravetz said it was not clear whether the assailant had broken into the home or had been let in.
No weapon has been found, he said.
“We have multiple theories of the crime,” Kravetz said. “We are doing a background investigation on him.”
The slaying is the city’s first in seven years, and has shocked the police force, which was familiar with Nicholson from events at the hotel.
“We are asking for the public’s help, if anyone heard or saw anything in the area in the early-morning hours of Friday,” Kravetz said.
Nicholson was last seen alive at work Oct. 22, and police believe he was killed in the early morning Oct. 23.
He died from blunt force trauma to the head, Kravetz said.
Hotel owner Claes Andersen said Nicholson had worked at the hotel for 15 years and called him “an outstanding employee.”
“He had a lot of friends, and we will miss him,” Anderson said. “It’s a huge shock.”
Andersen said he has been fielding numerous calls about Nicholson since the news broke.
Nicholson’s family is traveling from Arizona, and a memorial service may be at a later date, he added.
Anyone with information should call the Laguna Beach Police Department Investigations Division at (949) 497-0371.