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Reward offered in hotel employee’s murder

UPDATE: The owner of the Hotel Laguna, Claes Andersen, has offered a $5,000 reward to help identify and convict the killer of Damon Nicholson, said Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz

For many years, Nicholson was the catering manager and handled events at the Hotel Laguna. He was discovered bludgeoned to death inside his home Oct. 23 after failing to show up at work.

Police have few leads in the case.

His body was found on his couch in the secluded duplex on a quiet North Laguna street.

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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 suspected murder in seven years, and has shocked the police force, which was familiar with Nicholson from events at the hotel.

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“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.

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.

Andersen’s reward is based upon the police department receiving information which leads to the identity, prosecution and conviction of the murderer. Any tips or leads can be forwarded to Det. Debra Kelso at (949) 497-0371.

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