Orange County District Attorney
Press Release

Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
July 1st, 2004
Contact:Mark Macaulay
(714) 347-8405 (O)
(714) 323-4486 (C)

Santa Ana – Samuel Moses Nelson, 15, of Laguna Niguel, has been charged with the first degree murder of his neighbor Jane Hoyt Thompson, 72, of Laguna Niguel, in her home on June 25, 2004.  The charges allow for a direct filing of Nelson as an adult because the murder was committed during the commission of a burglary.  Nelson is also charged with five residential burglaries and faces life in prison without parole if convicted on all counts.

On five separate occasions, over a two-month period, Nelson is accused of surveilling the homes of his neighbors and breaking into three homes while the residents were either not at home or asleep. He is accused of taking credit cards from his victims and using them to purchase gifts and food for himself and his friends.  Nelson is charged with burglarizing Jane Thompson’s home on three occasions:  June 18, June 24, and June 25.  On the last occasion, Nelson is accused of entering Thompson’s home during the early morning hours as she slept on a couch in front of a television in her living room.  When Thompson awoke to find him in the room, Nelson is charged with beating the elderly woman to death by striking her over the head more than a dozen times with a finishing hammer.

Nelson is set to be arraigned at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 2, 2004, in department S2 of the South Justice Center, 30143 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677.  Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Haskins has been assigned to the case.