Murders A-Z is a collection of true crime stories that take an in-depth look at both little-known and infamous murders throughout history.
Omaima Nelson, who moved to the U.S. from Egypt at the young age of 18, turned what could have been the American Dream into a depraved American Nightmare. An immigrant with beauty, brains and aspirations, Omaima’s shocking story includes surviving in an unfamiliar country, sugar daddies, and ultimately a murder in which a human head was cooked in a deep fat fryer.
Omaima was born in 1968 in Southern Egypt by the Sudanese border. She came from a troubled family background: her father was violent and had a raging temper, according to her attorney, who told “Snapped" that he was “known as a violent man, had a very bad temper.” They lived in a poor farming village and when Omaima’s parents divorced her mother moved her to a slum in Cairo called “The City of the Dead,” which was surrounded by graveyards.
Despite a rough start to life, Omaima grew into a beautiful teenager. When she was 18 she met an American oil worker and the two fell into a relationship. Omaima’s family insisted they get married, and Omaima agreed. As a forensic psychologist told “Snapped:” “She was no longer a virgin, and she felt that no Muslim man would accept her.”
After tying the knot in 1986 the oil worker took Omaima to Texas, where their marriage very quickly fell apart.
Still 18 years old, Omaima was now alone in her new country, and she did not have a strong command of English. Without many options, she turned to meeting men in bars to look for some stability.
After a number of short relationships Omaima ended up in Orange County, California. She had few job skills but somehow scraped by cleaning houses being a nanny. Omaima’s stunning looks also landed her some modeling work to help pay the bills.
In 1991, when Omaima was 23, she met a 56-year-old Texan named Bill Nelson. According to The Los Angeles Times, the two met playing pool at a bar. Omaima was attracted to older men, in part because she thought they’d they’d treat her better. The Senior Deputy District Attorney in the case told “Snapped:” "Nelson had a red Corvette. He had red cowboy boots. He was kind of a flamboyant, large belt buckle kind of guy.” And a journalist told “Snapped" that he "had this very vibrant personality, very big presence.”
Despite being in Orange County, Bill claimed to own a large cattle ranch in Texas. He was seemingly quite wealthy. Bill also had five children and seventeen grandchildren. Omaima wanted to be cared for and was looking for the kind of security an older man could provide.
The two new lovers hit it off immediately, and were so infatuated with one another that they got married a month after meeting. A California police officer told “Snapped" they “drove straight to Phoenix where they found a justice of the peace and got married.” They then took a honeymoon, which was a road trip to Texas and Arkansas for Bill to introduce Omaima to his family.
Bill introduced his children to their new step mom, some of whom were older than she. Omaima was viewed as a fierce and no-nonsense. After being bucked from a horse on the trip, a police officer said that “everybody thought she should seek some type of medical attention but she just asked for aspirin, some vodka, and went on with it.”
“This gal is one tough cookie,” added one of Bill’s daughters.
After a couple weeks of road tripping the pair came back to Orange County and Bill phoned his daughter to tell her about their great Thanksgiving feast and how well everything was going.
But on December 1, 1991, a man found Omaima waiting outside his door. The man’s name was Jose and he had dated Omaima for a short time. Omaima claimed that her husband had raped her, beat her, and forced her into days of bondage. She told Jose that she got one of her arms loose, then hit him with a lamp so hard she had killed him.
She also asked Jose to help her get rid of the body. A local police officer recalls what Omaima described to Jose, saying "she said that she’d cut up her husband and put him in trash bags, and needed some type of a truck or a vehicle to help her get the trash bags and dispose of them.” Omaima also said that she had 75 grand and two motorcycles that Jose could have in return for helping her.
Jose played it cool, and asked Omaima to wait while he got his truck when he was really calling 911. Minutes later the police showed up to question Omaima but she denied everything that she had told Jose, saying that Bill was "in Florida on a business trip." Police were suspicious, with one officer saying “she seems cooperative but the answers that she’s giving to questions are, uh, a little bit bizarre.”
But what came next would take the bizarre factor to another level.
Inside the red Corvette Omaima had been driving, officers found a bag in the passenger seat that appeared to contain human organs. A coroner’s investigator responded to the scene and even noted some characteristics of the organs, saying, “yeah, you see the little black spots on the lung? That’s carbon and that’s from smoking.”
This was now clearly a homicide investigation.
Investigators also found human hands in frying pans, cooked with white turkey meat. According to the Orange County Register, she had fried the severed hands with vegetable oil. Even more body parts were found in the freezer of the home.
“There was hot dogs. There was, uh, peas. There was carrots, and in the back was Mr. Nelson’s head,” the DA told “Snapped.”
The head had apparently been cooked in a deep fat fryer.
Next investigators examined the bedroom where Omaima claimed she was tied up and raped. Investigators immediately noticed that the bed posts were broken and that the bed and box springs were soaked with blood. Rings of bruises around the ankles of Bill’s severed remains suggested he may have actually been the one to have been tied up.
Omaima’s rape exam turned out to be negative and the cuts and and bruises on her body were “consistent with somebody that had dismembered a human body,” according to medical examiners. She was brought back for questioning and confronted with the huge mountain of evidence against her.
Omaima eventually began giving up more details, saying: "I don't remember how I killed him. All I remember, I get up, like I said, and I find him and he’s in a trash bag. I wish I knew how I killed him, though. Something inside me told me that I had to do it, like demons."
She continued to talk about visions of “two women” that she had prior to the murder. “There was blood all over them and they walk in and say, ‘He must die. He must die,’” said Omaima, who was then arrested.
As investigators pieced the bits of Bill back together, they found the truth of what happened to him. It turns out that Bill’s death resulted from at least 25 wounds to the head. An investigator said, "We theorized that he entered into a consensual bondage session with Omaima. She tied him to the headboard, and probably wanted some type of money or access to his wealth.”
According to the D.A., the body had been cut with such precision that the coroner's office wondered if she had done this to other people. Disturbingly, when they totalled the remains and compared the weight indicated on Bill’s driver’s license, eighty to a hundred pounds of Bill were still unaccounted for. This led investigators to ponder whether she had eaten part of Bill. A neighbor said they heard the garbage disposal running for the whole weekend until it seemed to have broken, only a few hours before Jose found Omaima on his doorstep.
As they dug into Omaima’s past they found a pattern of her quickly moving in with “sugar daddys” then ending the relationship and stealing valuables from them. However, none had ever ended in murder, until now.
Previously, Omaima had also been arrested for shoplifting in pharmacies. But on one occasion, when shoplifting in a local department store, Omaima was confronted by two female security guards, and the D.A. told “Snapped” that she “bit the breast almost off of one security guard.” She then went for the crotch of the other and managed to get away before being apprehended.
On December 2 1992, the 24-year-old stood trial. At trial, the prosecution had come up with a witness who had dated Omaima. He testified that one night Omaima had tied him to the bed before pulling out a gun and demanding money. “She pulled a gun out and she put the gun to my face and said she wanted, you know, for me to give her money,” the witness said. The man managed to break free of his restraints and wrestle the gun away from Omaima. But he was so embarrassed by this incident he didn't call the cops.
The case appeared to be open-shut. Investigators had a confession, the crime scene, and the body. Prosecutors showed how Omaima had a history of using men in these situations and that her motive was money.
But the most shocking story of the investigation had yet to be revealed.
The LA Times reported that a psychiatrist testified that Omaima said she “put on red shoes, a red hat and red lipstick before chopping up and cooking her husband's body. She said she prepared his ribs like in a restaurant and said aloud, ‘It's so sweet.’”
Her lawyer told the court of a lifetime of alleged abuse. Omaima had received a female circumcision when she was seven. Her clitoris had been removed by a crude surgery. Ever since, the scar tissue remaining had made sex very painful for Omaima. She had signs of PTSD and claimed that nearly everyone in her family either beat, tortured, or molested her.
The psychologist who examined Omaima said that she was very childlike and "began to fantasize that she was descended from ancient Egyptians. She claimed that ancient Egyptians spoke with her or acted through her. Despite any signs of rape, the defense used a forensic psychologist to claim that she was sexually abused by Bill.
“He demanded oral sex daily,” the psychologist testified. “The oral sex came with name-calling, which is very degrading...He was angry that she wasn't doing it the way he wanted it… She became psychotic. She told me that ancient Egyptians helped her.”
Apparently, the same ancient Egyptians told her to cut up his body because they believed that if your body is scattered you will not go to the afterlife. Omaima wanted to make sure when she went to the afterlife Bill wasn't going to be there.
Then Omaima took the stand.
Omaima’s attorney said she “claimed that there was sexual assaults going on, including anal sex." She also claimed that Bill had threatened her on their road trip if she wasn’t compliant and said he would bury her body in the desert.
ABC News reports that Omaima “claimed her husband abused her and threw her cat out of the window of their car” and also that he “handcuffed her to chairs and sexually abused her.” The night of the murder there was allegedly a brutal sexual encounter that ended because Omaima claimed she grabbed a lamp from the bedside table and hit Bill. She also used an iron and scissors.
That was all Omaima could remember. Her memory allegedly went blank, but she did deny eating any part of Bill. She said, according to the LA Times, “I swear to God I did not eat any part of him. I am not a monster.”
Omaima continued, saying, "I didn’t know where to go or who to call or what to do. And I got next, like, confused. I don’t know who I am, or who is that person. I’m not related to. I thought she is a stranger. I thought, 'What am I doing in this place?'”
The Daily Mail reported that “she said that after the slaying she 'freaked out,' fell into a trance-like state, and spent 12 hours hacking up the body to simplify disposal.” The jury found some sympathy in the story of Omaima. One juror, a person named “Famous Hooks,” said “I just figured she’d been through enough.”
Her lawyer said, “We thought we had a chance at either an acquittal based on self-defense, but more likely we had a chance at, uh, involuntary manslaughter.
The jury, however, found her guilty of second-degree murder, according to ABC News.
According to The Orange County Register, she was given 27 years for the second-degree murder as well as for “the assault, false imprisonment and robbery of a former boyfriend.” Omaima said “I’m sorry I dismembered him. I was in a fight for my life. If I didn’t kill him, I would have been killed that day myself.”
In 2011, Omaima was denied parole.
Bill’s daughter spoke at the parole hearing. According to The Los Angeles Times, it took her a while to compose herself before reading a “written statement about not having her father at her wedding, or being able to introduce him to her 8-week-old daughter.”
In prison, in the ‘90s, Omaima found a man in a wheelchair who married her before he passed away. They were allowed conjugal visits. Apparently, he left her a lot of money.
Omaima will be eligible for parole in 2026 at age 58.
[Photo: "Snapped" screengrab]
Searching for the best true crime podcasts? Subscribe to Martinis & Murder and join hosts Daryn Carp and John Thrasher as they chat about creepy crimes and unsolved mysteries... while sipping on killer drinks from our murderous mixologist Matt the Bartender. Each episode will focus on a new true crime, with all the gory details, and a cocktail recipe to get you through.