The deaths of a Las Vegas couple in what police described as a murder-suicide was the final episode of a troubled relationship that had become increasingly more violent.
Court papers show that Nicholas Frank Lanza and his estranged wife, Megan Kathleen Lanza, had a rocky marriage before she was shot to death in her home in a southwest Las Vegas neighborhood.
Police discovered their bodies Sept. 4 after they were contacted by family members who hadn’t heard from her. Megan Lanza, 38, died of gunshot wounds to the chest and head. The Clark County coroner’s office said Nicholas Lanza, 51, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The case is still under investigation, and the Metropolitan Police Department would not release information about the murder weapon, including its registered owner, or say if Nicholas Lanza had a permit to carry a handgun.
A divorce complaint filed March 26 by Megan Lanza’s attorney and a subsequent motion in May, plus comments from a neighbor, reveal the couple had separated during a bitter relationship. They were married in Las Vegas on Nov. 12, 2008, and had no children.
Nicholas Lanza “has a serious criminal record from New York, is violent, and when he moved out of the residence, the residence was brutally vandalized, with approximately $45,000 of damages to the house, including a gutting of the kitchen area, and graffiti,” attorney Donn W. Prokopius wrote in a motion filed May 21 with the District Court’s Family Division. The motion sought temporary orders for Megan Lanza’s possession of the house at 5695 Thunder Spirit St.
A sworn statement signed by Megan Lanza, whose maiden name was Megan Kathleen Lanning, says she was out of town on business on March 18 when Nicholas Lanza vacated the house. When she returned, she found the house had been vandalized. She filed a police report, claiming that, in addition to the extensive damage, some $35,000 in furniture, jewelry and personal items had been taken from the house.
Thursday, the couple’s neighbor, Phil Isakoff, said that about a year ago someone driving a pickup rammed the garage door and shot bullets into the side of the house, drawing a police response.
“He was very short-tempered, always yelling. I would look and say, ‘There he goes again,’ ” Isakoff said, describing Nicholas Lanza.
He said Lanza drove a truck emblazoned with the name of a tattoo parlor, Mob Ink.
On the evening of Sept. 4, Isakoff saw a police car parked across the street.
“Ha. The police are here for Nickie,” he recalled thinking.
A few hours later, a detective knocked on his door to ask questions before informing him of the double homicide.
According to her obituary, Megan Kathleen Manning was born in Burlington, Iowa, and eventually moved to Wisconsin, where she graduated in 1993 from Valders High School. She played piano, was on the soccer team, and was prom queen her junior year. Previously, she was on the swim team in McAllen, Texas, and “was a good athlete in track, basketball and was most valuable player on the volleyball team.”
“She made friends easily and with everyone,” the obituary reads, adding, “She loved fashion, cats, warm weather, bagpipe music and her beloved boxer, Remo.”
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 with a degree in consumer science and worked in management at several retail stores, including her last job as manager of the Cost Plus World Market on Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas.
That’s where her husband showed up “about four or five days” before the murder-suicide, according to one patron who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
He said Nicholas Lanza asked to see Megan. He had a bouquet of flowers. When she didn’t come to the entrance, “he beat the flowers on the counter until the petals fell off, then threw the stems down and walked away.”
Reporter Brian Haynes contributed to this report. Contact reporter Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.