BENICIA, Calif. (KTVU) - A 16-year-old from Benicia has been charged with murder for allegedly killing his father, step-brother and his father's fiancée in the family's El Dorado County cabin and then burning the cabin down, El Dorado County officials announced Thursday afternoon.
Buchanan was taken into custody at about noon. A Benicia High student told KTVU two law enforcement officers walked into a classroom across from his. They walked out with the teen, who had his head down.
"His class was across from mine. I seen the police come out the door with him," said Benicia High student Lafayle Fuller.
When asked his reaction, Fuller said he had no idea what had happened.
"I didn't even know. Like, I thought he was caught with weed or something," said Fuller.
The student said he later learned that Nolan is accused of killing his family.
"I think it's shocking. I can't believe somebody would kill their parents," said Fuller.
Nolan Buchanan has been charged as an adult in the three murders after originally telling investigators that he had remained behind in Benicia while his family visited the cabin for a weekend in September.
Sheriff John D'Agostini confirmed the remains of three people found in the burned cabin were 38-year-old Adam Buchanan, his fiancée 37-year-old Molly McAfee, and their 8-year-old son Gavin. He said the family had been shot before the fire started.
Adam Buchanan and his family went missing after leaving for the weekend on Sept. 11 to visit their cabin at 4646 state Highway 193 in Greenwood.
The cabin was found burning in the middle of a 10-acre wildfire at about 11 a.m. on Sept. 13, according to the sheriff's office. After the fire was out, investigators found the remains of three people inside and sent the remains for DNA testing.
Sheriff's deputies traveled to Benicia to tell Nolan Buchanan about the fire and he told them he had stayed behind.
Days later, investigators returned to serve a search warrant at the family's home at 500 Cambridge Drive in Benicia as well as at Buchanan's construction business, seizing a white Ford F-150 truck.
Investigators found evidence in the truck that contradicted Nolan Buchanan's statement, D'Agostini said.
"The investigation led us to believe that Nolan was involved," said El Dorado County Sheriff's Sgt. Todd Hammitt. "Through the investigation, we located fire arms, ammunition."
Later, they found McAfee's purse and Adam Buchanan's wallet along with a gun and ammunition at a Benicia business park near Buchanan Construction & Sons at 4868 E. Second St.
Nolan Buchanan apparently had stayed behind but then drove the truck to the cabin, killed the family and returned to Benicia. He continued to live in Benicia and was attending school, according to D'Agostini.
Another classmate described Nolan as a good student and says he talked about vacationing with his family.
"As far as I know he was a good kid," said Benicia High student Campbell Ruxton. "He always cared about school . He seemed very kind. He was very nice. I'm actually surprised he was arrested."
Neighbor Steve Dean told KTVU Nolan and his family lived here in this home for the past eight or nine years. He spoke highly of the teen.
"I thought he was the model teenager in the neighborhood," said Dean.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said Nolan Buchanan has been charged with three counts of murder and will be arraigned in the case on either Friday or Monday.