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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 6:57 am | Fair 45º

 
 
 
 

Students, Teachers Gather to Mourn and Remember Slain Holzer Brothers

The young boys, found dead in their home allegedly at the hands of their father, came to school each day with 'joy in their hearts'

Students and teachers alike shed tears on Friday at La Colina Junior High School as they gathered to remember the lives of brothers Sebastian and Vincent Holzer.

S Holzer
Sebastian Holzer

Gathered in the school's courtyard, several hundred students, staff and community members met in the sunshine to recall each of the boys and the small details of their lives, their love of fishing at East Beach, Pokemon and root beer floats.

The community has been reeling since learning of the deaths of Sebastian, 13, and Vincent, 10.

The boys were found dead in their home on Aug. 11, along with their deceased grandparents, Bill and Sheila Holzer.  

The boys' father and the Holzers' son, Nicolas Holzer, 45, told deputies he had stabbed all four people to death as well as the family's dog, Dixie, in the Walnut Park Lane home they shared. He was arrested without incident and is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 9.

Many questions remain about Holzer's mental health history and the events leading up to the deaths, but on Friday, the hurting community gathered to try to remember the boys who showed up to school each day with joyful hearts.

Betsy Meagher, PTA president at Foothill School, where Vincent attended, took a moment to share several reflections from Vincent's teachers.

He was an avid reader, an expert on Emperor Penguins and lover of Pokemon cartoons with an inquisitive nature and eager to learn, his teachers said.

Meagher said he loved his brother as well and loved spending time with him.

Among the notes classmates wrote on the first day of school at Foothill, students remembered Vincent in sweet details, like as a boy who wore orange and green almost every day, loved to play kickball and as a child who was always hungry, even after devouring a plate full of food.

Both boys had a keen interest in history and science, which they loved to share with others, Meagher said.

"Vincent was well respected by his peers and made the adults he interacted with truly special," she said.

Meagher described grandparents Bill and Sheila as "wonderful and kind" toward the boys, and attended every back to school night, play and function that the children were involved in.

"Vincent was a great treasure to us and his presence will be missed every day," she said.

V Holzer
Vincent Holzer

Maureen Granger, an English teacher at La Colina, read a poem in which Sebastian had written about his coin collection given to him by his grandfather, a gift that Sebastian seemed to treasure.

Granger encouraged those in attendance to remember the family and hold their memories close.

"It would be easy and convenient for all of us to slip the Holzer family into a plastic sleeve like Sebastian's coin collection," Granger said. "It might be more difficult to view our time with Sebastian and his family as a gift."

P.E. teacher Chrystee Bradley said Sebastian had no shortage of friends at the school.

"Almost every kid knew him," she said.

Student Michelle Qin read a letter Sebastian had written to incoming seventh-graders in June as an English assignment, and said that meaningful lessons can be taken from it for everyone.

"Let us honor Sebastian and his family and do just what he wanted and have a great year," she said.

Principal David Ortiz recalled coming together as a staff for the first time last Thursday, the first time the school leaders had been together since the summer ended. He described the meeting, full of teachers who regretted not intervening earlier and having no idea that something was wrong in the Holzer home.

It was an emotional meeting, and one of the teachers "said repeatedly, 'I didn't see, I didn't see,'" Ortiz said.

He responded that no, the teachers had seen the boys in a real way and that they came to school each day, happy and well-adjusted.

"There was joy in their hearts. … You did see," he told the crowd. "May our dear friends rest in peace."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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