Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jesse James Hollywood

A Mother's Outrage

A knock on their front door shattered the lives of the Markowitz family.

Nick's parents hold a photo of him
Nick's parents hold a photo of him

Susan Markowitz, 41, the second wife of Jeffrey Markowitz, described herself to the Los Angeles Times as a "stay-at-home mom whose job had been taken away." She was very close to her son Nicholas, and the two even kept a journal together.

After learning that more than two dozen people saw her beloved son alive during his last two days, yet failed to call the cops, she became outraged, then despondent. She tried to kill herself twice, she told the paper, but eventually found strength by focusing on the capture of her son's killers.

The Markowitzes sued Hollywood and 31 others over Nick's death, alleging that dozens of people could have helped Nick escape. They settled with 14 defendants, including the LAPD, for $350,000.

She tacked up "wanted" posters for Hollywood around town. The Markowitz family offered a $50,000 for information leading to his arrest, adding to the $20,000 award offered by the FBI.

She attended hundreds of courtroom proceedings for the captured suspects, clutching her son's leather bomber jacket as a kind of security blanket while she listened to testimony maligning her son's character or detailing his brutal death. The only proceeding she missed, she told the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, coincided with what would have been Nick's graduation from El Camino High School, which she attended to pass out "In Memory of Nick" key chains.

Police released these photos of Jesse
Police released these photos of Jesse

The stress of her ordeal at manifested itself in severe back pain that sent her to the emergency room. She also gained 65 pounds. After his death, she turned the family home into a shrine to her only child, hanging up poster-sized pictures of her son and displaying his personal belongings around the house, including his baby toys and bar mitzvah gifts.

She told the Journal that it was hard for her not be bitter toward her stepson, Ben, and admitted there was friction in her 18-year marriage because of it.

"Nick died for his brother Ben," Markowitz told the paper. "He did nothing to escape, because he felt his brother would come and save him. In my opinion, Ben has done nothing in memory of that."

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