Santa Barbara County woke up to reports of another mass murder on Tuesday, after four victims were found inside a home on a quiet cul-de-sac near Goleta.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters the man arrested is 45-year-old Nicolas Holzer, who lived with his parents and his two sons at the residence. According to Brown, Holzer calmly called Sheriff's dispatchers on Monday night, claiming he had killed his family.
Detectives say they found Holzer at the door of the home and arrested him. Investigators say he told them it was his "destiny" to commit the killings. Brown said Holzer had no criminal history.
When deputies arrived, they found 10-year-old Vincent Holzer, 13-year-old Sebastian Holzer, 74-year-old Sheila Holzer, and 74-year-old William Holzer dead inside the house. A family pet Australian Shepherd dog was also fatally stabbed.
They have recovered two kitchen knives believed to be connected to the mass murders.
Brown said the innocent victims were "repeatedly stabbed."
The elder Holzers were well known in the community, contributing to political campaigns, the United Way and the Santa Barbara Zoo. William Holzer was also a accomplished engineer in the aerospace industry and had a patent for an optical measuring device. 10-year-old Vincent attended Foothill Elementary School. His 13-year-old brother Sebastian attended La Colina Junior High.
Holzer is being held without bail and faces four counts of murder and a charge of animal cruelty.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department released the following statement in regards to the killings:
Santa Barbara – The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has positively identified the suspect and the four victims he murdered last night, August 11, inside a residence located in the 600 block of Walnut Park Lane in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County. The suspect is 45-year-old Nicolas Etienne Holzer of Santa Barbara and the victims are his parents, 73-year-old William Holzer and 74-year-old Sheila Holzer, his two sons, 13-year-old Sebastian Holzer and 10-year-old Vincent Holzer. The family dog was also killed. All the deceased had been fatally stabbed.
Last night, at 11:03 p.m. Nicolas Holzer called 911 and in a calm and matter of fact manner told a dispatcher that he had killed his family, which included his parents, two sons and the family dog. When Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene the suspect met them at the front door and was taken into custody without incident.
Sheriff’s deputies then conducted a search of the residence and found a dead Australian Shepard-type dog deceased in a hallway, the suspect’s father in the den, the suspect’s mother at the threshold to, and the two boys within, a bedroom. All of the victims were determined to be deceased. Each of them appeared to have been repeatedly stabbed. Sheriff’s deputies recovered two large kitchen knives that are believed to be the murder weapons.
Nicolas Holzer subsequently told detectives he had killed his family to fulfill what he believed was his destiny. He said he had committed the murders shortly before he called 911. He claimed to have killed his father first, then the children, then his mother and finally the family dog. When asked why he committed these crimes, he claimed “I had to.”
The Sheriff’s Office did not have any prior documented contact with Holzer except for an assault case from 1996 in which he was a witness. He does not appear to have any criminal history and there have not been any law enforcement calls for service at the residence the past several years.
Nicolas Holzer had obtained full custody of his two sons following a divorce eight or nine years ago. He and his sons had been living with his parents at the Walnut Park home for the past seven years.
Sebastian Holzer was a student at La Colina Junior High and Vincent Holzer was a student at Foothill Elementary School located near the grandparent’s residence.
Autopsies on all of the victims are pending. Holzer was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on four counts of murder and is being held without bail. An animal cruelty charge is also pending.