On August 6, 2000, 15-year-old Nick Markowitz was just looking to stay out of harm's way. Arriving way past his curfew the night before at his San Fernando home, Nick had barely managed to stave off what he knew would be a verbal berating from both his parents but especially his mom Susan who'd issued a foreboding "we'll talk about it in the morning" as Nick retreated to his room. Sneaking out of the house in the early morning hours, Nick intended to keep away from home and maybe spend some time at the apartment of his step-brother, Ben. Only no one ever heard from him as the hours crept by and he was declared missing by the following evening. Found a few days later by hikers at a gravesite in Santa Barbara, Nick's body had been shot six times with a Tec-9 handgun and buried haphazardly in an isolated part of the canyon.
The grisly details of Nick's abduction, detainment and ultimate murder would steadily come to light as the evidence unraveled a truly shocking set of prior details about Ben Markowitz's own seedy lifestyle, his involvement in a particularly notorious Southern California drug ring and, ultimately, his fatal betrayal of a contemptible but ruthless 20-year-old drug dealer named Jesse James Hollywood. Ben and Hollywood had actually grown up as friends and even played baseball together in high school before the feud over drug money had turned them into enemies, a situation making Nick a victim of circumstance when he was kidnapped. Hollywood and his gang had actually happened upon Nick while they were cruising the area in search of Ben (in hiding out of a concern for his safety) and had initially taken the youth only to use as collateral so Hollywood could extract a rather hefty drug debt owed him. But as the situation escalated with the issue still unresolved, Hollywood put his impulsive plan into action first orchestrating the shooting of Nick, ditching his accomplices (including triggerman Ryan Hoyt) and relocating to South America where he would live under a false name and as a suspect (the youngest ever) on the America's Most Wanted list until his capture in 2005.