A Suburban Teen Who Murdered His Family

Anne Marble
6 min readAug 11, 2021

Unless you live in Maryland, you might not have heard about Nicholas Waggoner Browning: a teen-aged boy from a respected family who murdered his parents and two younger brothers. While he claimed he did it because of abuse, the murders were cold-hearted. Also, nothing excused murdering his two younger brothers.

A Privileged Life?

Try to picture a nice house in the suburbs of Cockeysville, Maryland, in the late winter of 2008. Photographs in the local newspapers show a large home with an enormous lawn. Murders are rare here.

The Browning Home in Cockeysville, Maryland. (Source: The Baltimore Sun; photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor.)

The father, John, is a local attorney, working at Royston Mueller McLean & Reid in nearby Towson, Maryland. The mother, Tamara, is a stay-at-home mom. The oldest child, Nicholas, is approaching his 16th birthday. He has two younger brothers, Greg (14 years old) and Benjamin (11 years old). The family often vacations at their vacation home at Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland.

The Browning Family at Their Vacation Home at Deep Creek Lake. (From a photo handed out by the family. Source: Baltimore Sun.)

Nicholas is an honor student at Dulaney High School in Timonium, Maryland, where he is on the varsity lacrosse team. He plays golf, and he also skis, and he’s a Boy Scout. His father is involved as a Scoutmaster and is also a church leader.

A Dulaney High School Yearbook Photo of Nicholas W. Browning from 2007. (Source: Baltimore Sun.)

It sounds like a life of privilege. In many ways, it was, even if it may have had a darker side. We’ll never know for sure because the only other witnesses were murdered.

The Murders

On the evening of Friday, February 1, 2008, Nicholas came home after visiting friends. His actions would shatter not only his family but also his extended family and his community. He shot his father, John, who was sleeping on the sofa on the ground floor, and then, he went upstairs to kill his mother, Tamara, and his younger brothers, Benjamin and Greg.

Five hours later, Nicholas walked back to his friend’s house and played video games. He asked his friends to take him home early Saturday afternoon, but not before inviting friends to a…

Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.