Parents of murdered Bonita Springs woman get some closure after killer found guilty

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
David and Debbie Nicholson. Credit: WINK News.

Monday, the parents of a murdered woman received some closure after their daughter’s killer was convicted.

Sarah Nicholson, 34, was brutally murdered in her Bonita Springs home in October 2017. It’s a scene that was so awful her family was told not to see their daughter’s  body.

For nearly four years, Sarah’s parents have been in survival mode, trying to get through each day and looking for signs for how to move forward.

We spoke to Sara Nicholson’s parents in an exclusive interview Tuesday. No verdict can ever bring their daughter back, but they are hoping this will help them one day at a time.

David and Debbie Nicholson told us they taught their daughter that hate will eat you up inside. For the last four years, they’ve tried to follow their own lesson. They say they’ve come a long way.

A year ago, David could hardly talk about what happened to his daughter. The Nicholson’s only child, Sarah Marie, stole their hearts, stole their jokes and was their everything.

“That Christmas, she gave me a ring, a gold ring and said, ‘Momma, I’m just sorry it couldn’t be an eternity [ring],’” Debbie recalled.

Instead, David and Debbie only got to have 34 years with their beloved Sarah.

“It left a black hole in our life,” David said.

Monday, a jury decided 23-year-old Cristian Dilan beat, stabbed and killed David and Debbie’s daughter in her Bonita Springs home. They were at their home in Arkansas at the time of her murder, and it opened the door to a life they never wanted to live.

David Nicholson traveled to Florida and saw for himself his daughter’s home had been set on fire by his daughter’s killer or killers.

“The funeral home and the coroner said, ‘David, you do not want to see your daughter,’’ David explained.

But he did and returned home a different person.

“It’s just been the last year and a half since he broke down and hugged me and really cried,” Debbie said.

Sarah Nicholson’s now convicted killer faces life in prison ahead of his sentencing.

David and Debbie no longer have their Sarah Marie, but they have each other, and they’ve learned to always share their heart.

“The people you love, let them know it, and that helps you,” Debbie said.

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