Murder of Michael Nigg

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Michael Nigg
A young Caucasian man with dark hair, wearing a dark collared shirt with the top button opened, smiling and holding a telephone handset to his left ear. Behind him is a striped background; there is a pixillated area to the top right of his head.
An undated photograph of Nigg
Born(1969-04-28)April 28, 1969
DiedSeptember 8, 1995(1995-09-08) (aged 26)
Cause of deathHomicide by gunshot wound
OccupationWaiter, actor, model

Michael Nigg (April 28, 1969 – September 8, 1995)[1] was an aspiring actor who worked as a waiter at a Beverly Hills restaurant. He was shot and killed during an apparent robbery attempt in Hollywood.[2] The Los Angeles Police Department later arrested three suspects but soon released them for lack of evidence. No other suspects have ever been identified, and the killing remains unsolved.[3]

The case attracted some media coverage at the time, because Nigg had formerly worked at the Mezzaluna restaurant in Brentwood, where he had been a friend of Ronald Goldman's. Almost 15 months earlier, Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson had been found slain at her home near the restaurant, after he had gone there to return her mother's eyeglasses, which had been left behind at Mezzaluna. Brown Simpson's ex-husband, former football star O. J. Simpson, had been charged with the murders, and his highly publicized trial had reached closing arguments.

Simpson, who has consistently professed his innocence in the Brown and Goldman killings, was acquitted of the murder charges almost a month after Nigg's death.[a] Alternative theories of the murders, supposedly shared by Simpson, have suggested they were related to drug trafficking in the Los Angeles area,[4] and that Nigg's was as well; Nigg apparently lived very well for a waiter,[5] and there were some allegations he, too, had been involved in the drug trade while working at the Mezzaluna branch in Colorado before.[6] Nigg and Goldman, it has also been noted, were not the only waiters at Mezzaluna to be the victims of criminal activity during the mid-1990s.[6]


Nigg was born in Gunnison, Colorado, where he grew up and attended Western State University. After graduating, he went to the Los Angeles area to try to start an acting or modeling career.[3] He made an appearance on Liars, a syndicated television series.[2]

While seeking jobs and roles, he worked at restaurants waiting tables to support himself. By 1994, he was working at the Mezzaluna restaurant in Brentwood, on the city's Westside. Among his friends and coworkers there was Ronald Goldman. Nigg worked there until a month before June 1994, when Goldman was murdered along with Nicole Brown Simpson, former wife of football star O. J. Simpson.[7] As Simpson's trial for the killings progressed, Nigg went to work at another restaurant, Sanctuary, located in Hollywood.[2]

Crime and investigation[edit]

On the evening of September 8, 1995, Nigg and his girlfriend Julie Long were on their way to another restaurant in his Mercedes. They stopped at a bank branch in Hollywood, so Nigg could withdraw some money from his account. Long stayed in the car, parked in the branch lot, while Nigg went up to the automated teller machine, where he withdrew $40.[2]

As he did so, two men walked up to him and demanded money. When he refused, one of the men shot Nigg in the head. Afterwards, both robbers walked away, departing in a waiting car. Long, who witnessed the entire incident, was not harmed. The killers did not appear to have taken anything despite their initial aims.[6]

The crime was reported promptly. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) looked for the suspects over the weekend but found no leads. On the night after the killing, Nigg's friends gathered in the parking lot for a candlelight vigil. Among them was actor Mickey Rourke, who spoke to television news crews that came to cover the event. "If anyone knows anything about the shooting that took place," he said, "just give the cops a call."[2]

Three months later the LAPD arrested three suspects, including the alleged getaway driver. However, they were quickly released for lack of evidence. Rewards have been offered, and the killing was dramatized on a segment[which?] of America's Most Wanted. The case remains open and unsolved.[3]

Possible connection to O. J. Simpson murder case[edit]

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office prosecuted Simpson for the killings of Goldman and Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, based on the theory that Simpson, who had had a history of domestic violence with her, had acted in a fit of rage upon realizing that she was not going to return to him. Simpson himself, according to his lawyers, believed that the two had been killed over their involvement in drug dealing in the area, and that other murders at the time were carried out for the same reason. O. J. Simpson speculated that Nicole Brown Simpson had been planning to open a restaurant of her own using proceeds from cocaine sales. Mezzaluna Trattoria, where she ate her last meal, and where both Nigg and Goldman had worked, was reportedly a nexus for drug trafficking in Brentwood.[4]

Authors Donald Freed and Raymond Briggs claimed in Killing Time (1996), their book about the Simpson case, that an unnamed source told them that while Nigg had lived in Colorado, he was known to law enforcement there to be "involved in the narcotics culture" in Aspen (where another branch of Mezzaluna is located) and Denver.[6] According to journalist Joseph Bosco, who had a reserved seat at the entire trial, Nigg "lived beyond his apparent means", driving a Mercedes and living in a luxury condominium while ostensibly deriving most of his income from waiting tables and occasional low-level acting jobs.[5] Freed and Briggs, among others, have also observed that the circumstances of the killing seem to suggest the assailants' true intent was to kill Nigg rather than rob him.[7][8] Moreover, Nigg and Goldman were not the only Mezzaluna waiters who had fallen victim to foul play around that time: two others were missing, and a third had his car destroyed by fire in Corona del Mar in 1994.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ He was later found liable in the deaths in a civil suit brought by the Brown and Goldman families


  1. ^ Hutchison, Joseph (2002). Joseph Hutchison Greatest Hits. Pudding House Publications. p. 26. ISBN 9781589981515.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Goldman Friend Slain Resisting Robbery". Deseret News. Associated Press. September 12, 1995. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Roberts, Michael (August 20, 2014). "Photos: Ten More Unsolved Colorado Homicides and Families of Victims". Westword. Denver. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Bailey, F. Lee; Rabe, Jean (2008). When the Husband is the Suspect. MacMillan. pp. 103–04. ISBN 9780765316134.
  5. ^ a b Bosco, Joe (1996). A Problem of Evidence: How the Prosecution Freed O.J. Simpson. William Morrow. p. 94. ISBN 9780688144135.
  6. ^ a b c d e Freed, Donald; Briggs, Raymond P. (1996). Killing Time: The First Full Investigation Into the Unsolved Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. MacMillan. p. 149. ISBN 9780028613406.
  7. ^ a b Killing Time, 233
  8. ^ Hidell, Al; d'Arc, Joan (1999). The Conspiracy Reader: From the Deaths of JFK and John Lennon to Government-Sponsored Alien Cover-Ups. Citadel Press. p. 233. ISBN 9780806520414. Unless they were a special brand of surrealist muggers, I can only conclude that something rather fishy occurred that night