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Details Emerge as Trial Begins for Goleta-Area Man Accused of Killing Parents, 2 Sons

Victims all suffered multiple stab wounds allegedly inflicted by Nicolas Holzer; detectives struggle to understand motive

Man and women in court. Click to view larger
Nicolas Holzer, who is on trial in Santa Barbara Superior Court for allegedly killing his parents and two sons in 2014, speaks with his attorney, Christine Voss, on Wednesday. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

For the first time since Nicolas Holzer allegedly murdered his parents and two children nearly four years ago in their home near Goleta, investigators on Wednesday revealed details about the brutal knife attacks.

Holzer, 48, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder charges in the deaths of his parents, William Charles Holzer, 73, and Sheila Garard Holzer, 74, and his two sons, Sebastian, 13, and Vincent, 10, on Aug. 11, 2014.

The family dog was also found stabbed to death at the Walnut Park Lane home Holzer shared with his parents and sons.

According to court testimony Wednesday, all four victims died due to multiple stab wounds — more than two dozen in one case — some of which caused injuries to vital organs.

They also all sustained lacerations on their wrists, hands or fingers that detectives said could have been defensive wounds inflicted while trying to protect themselves or fend off their attacker. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Ken Rushing testified about arriving at the scene on Walnut Park Lane, where Holzer was taken into custody outside the home after he had called 9-1-1 to report the killings.

Rushing grew emotional as he described finding the boys on the floor of their bedroom. He observed a “bubble” out of one of their nostrils, he testified, and saw it as a sign of life and started yelling encouragement as he unzipped the boy’s onesie pajamas to start chest compressions.

“I started counting the stab wounds,” Rushing recalled. “I stopped at seven.”

With graphic photos of the victims displayed on a screen in the courtroom, Coroner’s Bureau detectives testified about the autopsies and causes of death.

Two men in court Click to view larger
Prosecutor Ron Zonen, left, in court Wednesday during the trial of Nicolas Holzer, who is on trial for the murders of his parents and two sons in 2014. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Responding to questions from prosecutor Ron Zonen, Detective Chad Biedinger, who was present for Vincent's autopsy, said the boy had suffered 28 stab wounds, as well as lacerations on his wrist and thumb that could be defensive wounds.

Sebastian, the older brother, had 19 stab wounds and also had lacerations on his hands, Biedinger said.

​Deputy Sandra Rivera said William Holzer had 22 stab wounds and injuries to his carotid artery, lungs and left kidney. Sheila Holzer had seven stab wounds, with injuries to her carotid artery and both lungs, Rivera said.

For more than an hour in the afternoon court session, Zonen played a videotape of Holzer being interviewed by sheriff’s detectives, including Sgt. Robert Minter, in the early morning hours of Aug. 12, after Holzer was arrested.

Holzer was shown sitting in a chair and speaking in a low voice, with a slow, rambling response to some questions and a quicker, concise response to others.

His statements in the interview give a glimpse into what he claims are the order of events and possible motive.

He did not have an attorney present during the interview, having apparently waived his Miranda Rights against self-incrimination.

At the beginning, he said, “Oh well, I already told, in terms of waiving my rights, I told the 9-1-1 dispatcher about the nature, you know, I took responsibility for doing what happened.”

He appeared calm and detectives, who were off camera, sounded increasingly frustrated as they repeatedly asked him why he did what he said he did – stab his family to death.  

Holzer responded that he is an evil person and has done many horrible things in his life, including killing people all over the world.

Detectives asked what led to the night’s events, and why he had done it, and Holzer repeatedly said that he didn’t want to, but he had to do it.

“Well nothing major transpired but there’s been a lot of things building for a very long time and I’ve killed a lot of people over the course of my lifetime and this just seemed to be the last time I did it,” Holzer said.

“That was something that I was supposed to do to fulfill my destiny to becoming the world’s worst human being from trying to start World War III several times to spreading AIDS,” he also said. 

Minter asked if he had thought of killing his parents before, and Holzer said, “I thought it was something I was going to have to end up having to do one day. I wasn’t sure.”

When Minter asked about what happened that night, Holzer said he attacked his father first, in the TV room/den, and then went to his sons’ bedroom and attacked his sons, who were asleep.  

His mother woke up and came into the room, and he attacked her, and then he went into the hallway and killed the family dog, Holzer said in the interview.

He said he used two knives, and told the detectives he put the handle for one of them in the kitchen trashcan.

On the evidence video that then-crime scene technician Michael Schwab showed in court, there were two similarly-sized kitchen knives laid next to each other on the kitchen island, one missing the handle.

When asked why he didn't leave instead of calling 9-1-1, Holzer said: “Because I didn’t see there wasn’t any place to go, and I didn’t see how there would be any way to deny what had happened. So it just seemed what should be done.”

In one exchange during the interview, Holzer said, “I wasn’t at peace with it at all. I didn’t want to do it.”

Minter asked, “What was the driving force behind it then if you didn’t want to do it?”

Holzer replied, “Why, it was something that I had to do because I was such a wretched evil person that that’s what’s expected.”

Minter asked, “So this is your last evil act that you felt you had to commit?”

Holzer said, “Right.”

As Noozhawk has previously reported, Holzer was in a custody battle with his ex-wife, Juana Holzer, over the boys when they divorced, and Holzer eventually won custody.

Defense attorney Christine Voss, representing Holzer, chose to waive a jury for the case so Hill is presiding over the trial and will determine a verdict. 

There will be a separate sanity phase of the trial if Hill finds that Holzer committed the alleged crimes.

The trial will continue in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Monday.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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