Nicholson murder suspect in custody

Laguna Beach Police have arrested a suspect in the bludgeoning death of Damon Nicholson in his home Oct. 23.

Matthew Thomas Dragna, 19, of Lake Forest, was taken into custody late Thursday at a rehabilitation facility in Santa Ana, Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz said.

Dragna is believed to have slain Nicholson during a robbery at the victim’s North Laguna home.

The two knew each other, and Kravetz said that Nicholson may have invited Dragna to his home.


“He entered the home of Damon Nicholson in the early morning hours and bludgeoned the victim and fled with numerous items,” Kravetz said.

Police are trying to find Nicholson’s stolen Macintosh laptop computer, which they believe Dragna may have sold. Other items that were stolen include computer equipment, cell phones, and clothing, some of which has been recovered.

Police searched Dragna’s family home in Lake Forest and recovered key evidence in the case, Kravetz said.

Dragna may have met the victim recently, possibly over the Internet, Kravetz said.


The suspect is being held at the Laguna Beach city jail and will eventually be transferred to the Orange County Jail. Police are seeking first degree murder charges against him.

A memorial for Nicholson was held Nov. 13 at Tivoli Too in Laguna Beach.

Nicholson was a popular catering manager for the Hotel Laguna. Hotel owner Claes Andersen has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

Anyone with information about the case may call Laguna Beach Police at (949) 497-0371.