It’s Unexplainable! The Heartbreaking Case of the Buchanan Family

we’re going to take a look at another

horrible case with you Monday September

14th 2015 was remembered by 16-year-old

Nolan Buchanan as the best day of his

life the day before he had spent Sunday

with his girlfriend a traditional

morning Mass with his girlfriend’s

family followed by a get together with

friends and a wonderfully romantic

evening waking up on Monday morning next

to his favorite girl the teenager felt

like a free successful and influential

businessman before whom the whole world

is open after all he was now the owner

of Buchanan construction the young man

was going to inherit cars a house land

monetary assets and made plans how he

would manage the family business alone

and certainly do it better than his

father who brought the company to

bankruptcy it would seem that what could


wrong already on October 1st 2015 Nolan

Keith Buchanan was arrested at Bonita

high school in Bonita California by the

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Nolan

was incarcerated at the juvenal

treatment center JTC in South Lake Tahoe

until June 13th 2018 when an El Dorado

County jury of seven men and five women

found Buchanan guilty of three

charges the jury took just 2 hours to

reach a verdict the young man was

sentenced to 150 years in prison with

the possibility of parole from the 25th

year of his

sentence this is how his plan to take

over the family business ended neighbors

and classmates spoke of Nolan as a model

kid and a good student as far as I know

he was a good kid Bene a high school

student camp Campell ruon would later

say in an interview he always cared

about school he seemed very kind he was

very nice I’m even surprised he was

arrested but what really happened in the

Buchanan family let’s break down this

horrific case in

detail Molly first met Adam Buchanan

when she came to apply for a job at his

firm as an office manager by the time

they met Adam was already divorced and

raising his son Nolan from a previous

marriage on his own cheerful sociable

and cheerful blonde immediately

attracted the attention of the owner of

the company the interest was Mutual

Molly fell in love started a romance

that turned into a serious relationship

and her move to Adam Molly dreamed of a

real loving friendly family and tried to

build a wonderful relationship with her

stepson soon she became pregnant Gavin

was born people who knew the buchanans

claimed that they were a fairly

close-knit family of four the head of

the family who owned a constru

Construction Company earned enough to

ensure a comfortable life and the family

even purchased vacation property in El

Dorado County California a small cabin

sat on 19 acres in Greenwood a rustic

cabin with no electricity water sewer or

gas Adam who worked in construction took

an active role in remodeling the house

and the family began to visit there

often on September 13th 2015 at 10:00

a.m. members of The Garden Valley Fire

Department responded to a wild fire in

Greenwood Township in Western El Dorado

County on Highway 193 between Co and

Georgetown upon arrival they found the

fire had destroyed 10 acres of the

property a cabin located on the property

was still smoldering but had burned to

the ground the fire department personnel

observed charred remains in the ashes

the scene of the fire was not touched

and at 11 am firefighters called the El

Dorado County Sheriff’s Office no one

had yet realized what was at the the

scene firefighters were almost certain

that the victim of the Wildfire was a

pet trapped in the house the arriving

coroner was faced with a daunting task

the remains of the house were still

smoldering and there was no way to

examine the inside of the house they had

to wait for the Flames to finally die

down and for the temperature to drop

slightly as the coroner examined the

house he smelled the sweet odor of burnt

flesh and later discovered a human skull

and a burned chest it appeared that the

tragedy had claimed someone’s life the

officer requested backup officers from

the Sheriff’s Office arrived and

conducted a thorough examination of the

scene the conclusion was obvious the

small secluded and remote cabin was not

the primary residence of its owners

rather it was most likely a Country

Cabin where people came to Vacation a

Dodge truck and trailer were found on

the property adjacent to the cabin it

was possible to run the license plates

and find out who the car belonged to the

owner may have been the victim of the


it didn’t take long to find out that the

vehicle and trailer belonged to Buchanan

construction a company owned by a man

named Adam bucanan the man in question

lived 160 mi from the scene of the

accident about 3 hours away in Bonita

California this information confirmed

the Assumption of the police who decided

that the house was just a country

residence for those who vacation here

from the hustle and bustle of the city

it remained to be seen who was inside Mr

Buchanan himself or someone

else the name of the owner of the

company gave the detectives their first

clue with which they began their

investigation the Bonita police officers

were tasked with checking to see if all

of Buchanan’s family members were well

and at home they went to the correct

address and were soon in the Buchanan’s

driveway where they noticed a white Ford

pickup truck at a knock on the door

Adam’s 16-year-old son from his first

marriage came out he greeted the

uniformed officers with surprise and

asked asked what brought them to him the

officers decided to First find out who

was in the house so as not to frighten

the household perhaps the company car

had been taken by someone from the

company and not the owner himself Nolan

Buchanan said his father Adam had gone

away for the weekend to his country

estate 160 Mi away with Molly and their

8-year-old son Gavin and they were due

back in the evening according to him his

father had left him to look after the

house investigators did not yet have

sufficient reason to believe the remains

in the cabin were those of the buchanans

but the information received and the

discovery of the remains believed to be

those of two people by the evening of

September 13th was enough to report the

family missing in the El Dorado County

Fire the next day September 14th

Eldorado County Police went to Nolan’s

home to talk to him more thoroughly and

try to figure out who lives the fire had

claimed officers were met by Adam’s

parents Howard and Susan Buchanan they

said that their son the owner of the

burned out cabin does his own home

repairs and therefore travels there very

often the parents were very concerned as

they had not been able to contact their

son or daughter-in-law until now from

the story The officers learned that the

house is connected to generators but at

the time of the tragedy it had no

electricity there were however gas

cylinders inside this gave two theories

the fire could have been either

accidental or intent

by September 15th the fire scene had

cooled down and investigators were

finally able to collect evidence

including debris from a nearby fire pit

according to Deton James Peterson of the

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office New

remains were discovered that changed the

direction of the case police found a

piece of skull with a bullet hole at

that point we all realized that there

was actually a homicide this was not an

accidental fire reported the sheriff the

remains were collected and sent for

forensic DNA testing in the first set of

remains the bullet was lodged in the

victim’s thigh the skull with the Bullet

Hole judging by its size belonged to a

child the version of fatal accident

dropped by itself the version of murder

came to the Forefront no one now doubted

that the fire was a means of destroying

the traces of the crime it remained to

find out under what circumstances the

crime had taken place was it a burglary

that had gone wrong or had the family

Tak in their lives deliberately but then

by whom and why or could the crime be

related to Buchanan construction a

company where Adam Buchanan was

president and Chief Operating Officer

and someone harbored a grudge against

him due to a working relationship

initially investigators focused

specifically on the latter Theory they

also looked into Molly’s life to

determine if she had any enemies capable

of the crime once those lines of inquiry

stalled officers turned their attention

to problems in Molly and Adam’s marriage

there proved to be plenty of them

investigators learned that over time

Molly and Adam’s relationship began to

deteriorate and at the time of the crime

they had been sleeping apart for quite


time a diary was found in which Molly

described abuse from Adam Witnesses

interviewed described rough treatment

and abuse according to them Adam was

rude not only to Molly but also to the

children Molly’s mother Susie Slanker

admitted to investigators there were

were times when I was afraid they would

kill each other in one of their

arguments Molly did not sever her

relationship with Adam but would

periodically take her son and leave to

go to her parents house and return a few

days later until the next fight it also

turned out that the couple liked to hunt

in the area where their country house

was located since everyone was armed the

investigators assumed that during

another quarrel one of the spouses

grabbed a gun and shot and when he

realized what he had done he took his

own life however there was an

inconsistency if the tragedy happened

because of a conflict between husband

and wife it means that near the remains

of one of them must necessarily be the

instrument of crime which however was

not investigators speculated that the

weapon may have been damaged in the fire

and may not have looked as obvious as

expected over the course of 5 days

forensic team members took turns

removing ashes from the home the search

was conducted with surgical thoroughness

but but did not yield the expected

result no weapons were found in the

house by this time came the data of

forensic examination the examination

confirmed that the DNA of the bodies

belonged to Adam Buchanan Molly McAfee

and their 8-year-old son all three

victims had suffered gunshot wounds

before the fire and the angle of the

bullet wounds ruled out the version that

someone took their own life the lack of

firearms meant that someone else was in

the house a fourth person who shot the

buchanans and the investigation had to

start over police had no choice but to

turn to the 16-year-old son of the

deceased Nolan told officers that the

family drove away in an old Dodge truck

according to the son his father decided

to use the company vehicle rather than

his personal Ford which was parked in

the driveway because he had loaded the

truck and trailer with rocks that he was

going to decorate the area near his

Country Cabin it was this truck that

police found near the burned structure

when asked why Nolan did not go on

vacation with his relatives the young

man as in the first interview said that

he had a duty to look after the house

and garden during the absence of his

father and stepmother Nolan also said

that they had a neighbor growing

forbidden grass on the edge of the

Buchanan property which caused his

father to have frequent arguments with

this neighbor demanding that he stop

planting the grass and threatening to go

to the

police talking about the family business

Nolan told of the company’s financial

difficulties things were not going well

the company was undergoing downsizing

and the number of employees was down to

five from what his father said the debts

associated with the business were

increasing rapidly so now the

investigation had a lot of useful

information and the detectives had a

suspect a neighbor especially since in

that area violent crime was often linked

to the cultivation of illegal herbs

detectives felt that the threat of going

to the police could have led to the

murder of Buchanan and his family the

problem was no one had any idea which

neighbor they were talking about

investigators canvased the neighborhood

interviewing all the homeowners in a row

the tactic was successful they found a

man who confirmed the story of a quarrel

with Adam over growing a forbidden crop

but according to him after a sharp

conversation the conflict was over the

neighbor had an alibi and another

version turned out to be

untenable what remained to be dealt with

was the financial crisis that had hit

the family’s business on September 18th

the police visited Adam’s company and

interviewed the employees Nolan’s words

were true the company was in a sorry

state it was threatened with bankruptcy

as the amount of debts exceeded

$30,000 because of this some employees

were fired it turned out that some of

the former employees were extremely

dissatisfied with the reduction and

therefore could be involved in the crime

crime and that’s where investigators got

lucky over the weekend the local high

school organized a community cleanup day

the students were clearing debris from a

business park just a mile from Adams

Construction Company it was there on

September 19th that a small purse with a

wallet and identification cards

belonging to Molly McAfee and Adam

Buchanan was found under one of the

bushes a22 caliber rifle was lying

nearby detectives immediately went to

the scene of the discovery the County

Sheriff’s Office made a new assumption

the perpetrator had massacred the

Buchanan family with the found rifle and

covering his tracks had taken their

documents from the crime scene the

discovery was important because it meant

that someone had traveled all the way to

Greenwood to kill the family and then

returned to Bonita to dispose of the bag

and murder weapon it appeared to be a

Bonita resident the proximity of the

evidence found to the location of

Buchanan construction strengthened the

theory that the boss was massacred by by

one of the disgruntled

employees detectives sent the firearm

and the bag of documents for examination

requesting a warrant to inspect the

company’s records and premises here the

investigators got lucky a second time

during the search they gained access to

a video surveillance camera installed on

the firm’s premises by happy coincidence

the lens of the camera was directed not

at the company’s territory but at the

center of the parking lot after this

discovery the case was just days away

from being solved since it was already

known that the family had gone out of

town on Friday investigators reviewed

Friday’s footage and were surprised to

find that Adam had attached a trailer

filled with rocks to a Ford F-150 not a

Dodge truck as Nolan had told them

detectives realized that the young man

had deliberately manipulated the

investigation if the white Ford had

towed The Rock trailer to the cabin then

someone must have driven it back and

parked it in the driveway of the

Buchanan family home

investigators reinterviewed Nolan trying

to keep him safe while getting as many

details as possible Nolan again

recounted his weekend where he had been

and who he had seen only this time they

asked him what movie they had seen at

the cinema how he had paid for the

shopping at the mall and how he had paid

for dessert on a date the unsuspecting

Nolan answered with his father’s credit

card the officers then applied for a

warrant to search Buchanan’s home in

Bonita search the vehicles and check

Financial records the Ford automobile

was still parked in the driveway it was

closely inspected and they noticed

reddish soil sticking to the wheels

similar to that in Greenwood if the Ford

had been used for a trip last weekend or

earlier traces of soil might have

remained but they would not have been as

obvious unfortunately the fire had

destroyed the wheel tread marks near the

country house but the dirt buildup

indicated that the car had probably been

to Greenwood recently Detectives Tred

the bank card payments and found that

Adam Buchanan had used his credit card

on Friday September 11th at fast food

chain Taco Bell on his way to Greenwood

Nolan on the other hand claimed he

stayed home did not go with his parents

and had the credit card in his

possession detectives went to the diner

and checked the security cameras they

saw exactly what they expected a white

Ford instead of a truck when detectives

searched the Ford they found a Taco Bell

receipt dated September 11th that

included not three but four drinks

evidence collected at the scene of the

fire similarly pointed to four drink

cups so Nolan was in the car the next

credit card transaction took place on

Saturday September 12th at the Valencia

club bar in penin about 30 minutes away

from the cabin Adam’s parents had

previously told detectives about the bar

they said their son and daughter-in-law

likeed to drop in there after

renovations to the cabin security

cameras recorded the time the couple

left the bar and traffic cameras on the

highway helped track the couple’s route

a Ford F150 headed toward the Buchanan

cabin around 2:30 a.m. on the day of the

fire and at 3:30 a.m. drove in the

opposite direction in the first instance

the camera captured Adam and Molly in

the vehicle and in the second only Nolan

a few hours later on Sunday morning

September 13th Adam’s credit card was

used to pay at three of Bonita’s

establishments Starbucks McDonald’s and

a gas station the bank confirmed to

investigators that Buchanan had only one

bank card the facts contradicted Nolan’s

stories by this time forensic results

had come back Nolan’s fingerprints were

found on the gun he was arrested right

in the middle of a high school class

Nolan Buchanan pleaded not guilty to the

charges against him he attempted to

distort the story and claimed that it

was his father who shot the family after

which he pointed a rifle at him and he

defending himself took the weapon away

accidentally shooting his father Nolan

insisted it was self-defense attributing

the fire and subsequent lie to a state

of panic and extreme fright that’s why

he took gasoline and set the house on

fire to make it look like nothing had

happened there the defense continually

focused the jury’s attention on Adam’s

abuse of his own son and other family

members the medical examiner questioned

the verdict because the bullet wound

mark on a piece of Gavin’s skull was

consistent with a shot fired at nearly a

90° angle Nolan on the other hand

claimed that his and his brother’s beds

were next to each other and they were

simultaneously awakened by the noise and

screaming it was at the moment of

Awakening that Nolan allegedly saw

someone enter the bedroom and shoot

Gavin the shooter then pointed the rifle

at him and Nolan miraculously managed to

push the attacker away under this

scenario the shot would have been fired

at about a 45° angle which was

inconsistent with forensic evidence the

prosecution came to believe that Nolan

shot his brother when they were alone in

the house while their parents spent time

at a bar after waiting for his father

and stepmother to return Nolan shot them

as well judging by where the bodies were

found Adam was killed first followed by

Molly Nolan then took the rifle his

parents papers doused the bodies with

gasoline and set the house on fire then

he went home met his girlfriend and

spent the day with her creating an alibi

for himself on July 13th 2018 a jury

found Nolan guilty of three counts of

first-degree murder as a result he was

sentenced to 150 years in prison with

the possibility of parole after 25 years

judge Kingsbury in announcing the

sentence reflected on the verbal and

physical abuse Nolan faced on the

testimony that Nolan massacred his

brother because he didn’t want him to go

through the same horror or be forced to

live with what his father had already

managed to do to him but as she did she

also listed facts about the

premeditation of the crime and

subsequent arson the creation of aliis

and the plans to run the family business

that Nolan had voiced to family members

the judge cited a failure to follow

rules and deviant Behavior noted by

staff at the South Lake Tahoe juvenile

Treatment Center where Nolan went after

his arrest everyone has the opportunity

to change judge Kingsbury told Nolan I

hope you will do everything in your

power to do so

if you behave well you will have a

chance to get out on parole in 25 years

under the Senate bill and Supreme Court

rulings it’s up to you whether you take

that chance or not Nolan continues to

insist he is innocent if he ever gets

out on parole he will have to pay a huge

compensation to the victims the amount

of the payout is unknown at this time

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‘Rage over the relationship ending’: A man allegedly kidnapped his ex-girlfriend on the exact same day two years in a row – now she is dead and he is charged with her murder

It’s Unexplainable! The Heartbreaking Case of the Buchanan Family