Nicholas Browning was 15 years old when he murdered his parents, John and Tamara Browning, and his two younger brothers, Gregory and Benjamin, as they slept inside their home in Cockeysville, Maryland.
According to the Cockeysville community, Nicholas, a sophomore and honors student at Dulaney High School, appeared to be an all-around good kid.
He was also very active.
The Houston Chronicle reported that he played varsity golf and lacrosse, all while being a boy scout who had just completed a prayer garden at his church as a requirement for becoming an Eagle Scout.
Nicholas may have portrayed the “good boy” image, but law enforcement officers and investigators pegged him as a stone-cold killer.
And psychiatrist Neil Blumberg testified that “Nicholas suffered from dissociative disorder and alcohol abuse.”
“This was a deeply disturbed young man in a deeply disturbed family, in which a gun was available and a tragedy happened.”
Just shortly before 5 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2008, officers with the Baltimore County Police Department were dispatched to a home in the 10900 block of Powers Avenue after receiving a 911 call from Nicholas.
The teen told dispatchers that when he entered the house, he found his father unconscious and not breathing on the couch.
He also said his dad had blood emitting from his nose.
When officers arrived on the scene, they found the Browning family dead.
Nicholas’ father, John, 45, was a prominent real estate attorney at a Towson law firm, and his mother, Tamara, 44, was a stay-at-home mom.
His brothers, Gregory, 14, and 11-year-old Benjamin Browning, were students at Cockeysville Middle School.
CBS News reported that the Browning family had been shot in the head.
There was no sign of a physical confrontation in the home, which led investigators to conjecture that they had been killed while they were sleeping.
Initially, Nicholas denied having anything to do with his family’s murder, averring that he was at a friend’s house the previous night. When he returned home, he found them dead.
He said their deaths were the result of a botched robbery, the Washington Examiner reported.
When investigators noticed inconsistencies in Nicholas’ story, they transported him to the police station for further questioning.
After being interrogated for six hours, Nicholas confessed to murdering his family.
In a videotaped confession, Nicholas told investigators that in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 2008, he grabbed his father’s gun and shot him in the head while he was asleep on the couch.
“I just realized I couldn’t just walk away from that, and then I shot my mom” in her upstairs bedroom, he said.
Nicholas then went to his brothers’ bedrooms and shot them, but he said he shot Benjamin a second time because he began to move.
He then fled to a nearby street and tossed the murder weapon in a bush before going to a friend’s house, where he spent most of the day playing video games.
At around 5 p.m., his friend’s mother drove him home. He exited the vehicle and went inside his home, but ran back outside and stated that his father was dead, WBAL TV reported.
He then called 911.
Investigators asked Nicholas why he would kill his family, and he said it was to collect the inheritance money.
Several months before the murders, investigators ascertained that while Nicholas told two other teens on the school bus that he had grown weary of his father telling him what to do, and he wanted to kill him.
WBOC reported that police spokesman Bill Toohey affirmed that a disagreement between Nicholas and his father is what led to the killing.
A county prosecutor stated that Nicholas “did everything as if he were a professional hitman,” and he showed no remorse for killing his family.
While in court, Nicholas apologized to his extended family. He said, “I’m so sorry. Words can’t describe what I did… I would give my own life.”
At around 1 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2008, Nicholas was arrested at the Baltimore County Police Department.
He was booked into the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, where he was kept in a secluded section for juveniles.
Nicholas was charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder.
The following day, Nicholas attended a court hearing, where a judge denied his bond.
Prosecutor Robin Coffin said, “This crime was so heinous that Nicholas Browning should never get out of jail.”
After pleading guilty to the charges in January 2009, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger sentenced Nicholas to four life terms for murdering his parents and two younger brothers.
He will be eligible for parole after serving 23 years with good behavior.
Judge Bollinger ordered that Nicholas be “committed to the Patuxent Institution, a maximum-security psychiatric facility with a program for youthful offenders.”
It was reported that the judge wasn’t “swayed by any of the explanations of his motive” for killing the Browning family.