Suspect in slaying of parents near Sebastopol caught after day-long manhunt

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The grim discovery of a husband and wife found stabbed to death in their home outside Sebastopol on Monday morning launched a massive manhunt across the North Coast that concluded seven hours later and 75 miles away in Mendocino County with the arrest of the lone suspect, the couple’s 34-year-old son.

Nathan Alexander Wilson, who friends said struggled with mental health issues, was arrested in Ukiah on suspicion of killing his parents, David Wilson, 66, and Adrianne Chapin, 60, Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said.

Wilson, who authorities said was spotted on his parents’ property Monday morning covered in blood, was apprehended after a person alerted authorities at about 4:30 p.m. and reported seeing the man’s pickup parked along Tomki Road in Redwood Valley, an unincorporated community north of Ukiah, Sgt. Cecile Focha said. Ukiah police soon spotted Wilson walking on North State Street and arrested him, taking him into custody at the Mendocino County Jail.

The arrest brought to an end a wide-ranging search by law enforcement as deputies fanned out Monday to check on relatives, friends and fishing spots Wilson was known to have frequented. Officers on the lookout for Wilson’s 2006 dark gray Toyota pickup pulled over similar vehicles at various points from Sebastopol to the Highway 101 corridor.

At the same time, the news that Wilson was suspected of killing his parents rippled across the community. His father, David Wilson, was a contractor and his mother was a dancer, artist and homemaker, friends of the family said. They leave behind at least two other adult children, a son and a daughter.

Wilson had struggled with mental health issues known to friends of his family, according to several people who said they were close to the family.

But “there was absolutely no indication this could be in the future,” said Joel Hidahl, 62, of Forestville, who said his son was friends with both Nathan and his brother, Zack Wilson, from their days at El Molino High School. “That’s what’s really tearing me apart right now; it just doesn’t make sense.”

David Wilson and Chapin were “just wonderful people,” Hidahl said. “They were the kind of people who would do anything for anybody; it didn’t matter who you were or what you looked like.”

On Monday morning, David Wilson’s brother made the horrible discovery at the house on Sexton Road in the hills southwest of Sebastopol. He called 911 shortly before 9:30 a.m. and told law enforcement dispatchers that he thought his nephew Nathan Wilson, who lived at the same property, had just killed the couple, Focha said.

The man said he saw the couple, covered in blood, on the floor inside their home, Focha said. He also told dispatchers he saw his nephew on the property, at some point near a shed, and that Nathan Wilson, too, was covered in blood.

Authorities found the pair inside with fatal wounds caused by a sharp object, Focha said. They were pronounced dead at the scene. Detectives recovered a weapon possibly used in the attack, she said. She did not give further details on the weapon.

Nathan Wilson was nowhere to be found when authorities arrived, and officials suspected he had driven away in his Toyota pickup. The Sheriff’s Office issued an alert for regional law enforcement officers to look for Wilson and his vehicle, broadcasting his photo, descriptions and license plate information.

During the search, marked patrol cars lined the shoulder of Sexton Road, a rural route lined with vineyards turned gold with autumn. Detectives pulled yellow tape across the driveway and waited in the damp, gray afternoon for a signed warrant before they searched the property.

Behind an automated gate and what appeared to be a new wooden fence, the couple had a freshly painted single-story home, a well-kept yard and a large, garage-like shed on the wooded property.

A neighbor said the property had been rundown when the couple moved in about five years ago, and neighbors watched as the couple worked diligently to rebuild and remodel, at first living in an RV on the driveway.

The neighbor, who declined to give her name, said that the family kept to themselves, but seemed kind and hardworking.

The couple struggled to help their son Nathan over the years, a difficulty that Chapin shared with friends at women’s spiritual circles she attended, said Jane Eagle of Graton.

“She was tied up in knots,” Eagle said.

According to Eagle, Chapin said that Nathan was doing better following a few difficult years that included hospitalization for mental health issues.

The break in the manhunt for him came with the 4:30 p.m. phone call from Redwood Valley.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said that a deputy spotted the vehicle, then looked up Wilson’s photo disseminated by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and realized he’d seen him several hours earlier walking down North State Street, which runs from Redwood Valley south through Ukiah.

The deputy notified Ukiah police, and officers spotted Wilson at about 5 p.m. walking near the Mendo Mill and Lumber Co.

Wilson initially gave the officers who contacted him a false name, but they confirmed his identity with a driver’s license in his pocket, Focha said. He was arrested without incident and will be moved to Sonoma County, the sergeant said.

Wilson was twice charged with drunken driving, including a 2013 conviction for felony drunken driving causing injury or death stemming from a 2009 crash, court records show. That same year, he was convicted of misdemeanor trespassing.

In April 2014, Wilson rescued a dog stranded for nearly two months down a Sonoma Coast cliff while fishing with Hidahl’s son, J.J. Hidahl. In accounts of the rescue, which attracted media coverage, Wilson said he carried the dog up the cliff on his shoulders and returned the animal to its Timber Cove family.

Staff Writers Randi Rossmann and Glenda Anderson contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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