Man confesses to killing father in Northern California and leads deputies to grave, officials say

Sean Purdy
Sean Purdy, 20, is charged with a felony count of murder in connection with his father’s death.
(Washoe County Sheriff’s Office)

A 20-year-old man was charged with murder after authorities say he confessed to killing his father and burying him in a shallow grave in Northern California on New Year’s Day.

Sean Purdy, 20, was arrested Thursday in Nevada on suspicion of killing his father, 52-year-old Lance Purdy, after a days-long manhunt that ended when authorities tracked his phone to the east shore of Lake Tahoe. He was booked in the Washoe County jail in Nevada and is expected to be extradited to California. Purdy has not entered a plea and appears to be representing himself in the case, according to court records.

Amador County, Calif., sheriff’s deputies spent four hours on Friday interviewing Purdy in jail before obtaining a confession and the location of his father’s body, authorities said. That night, deputies began scouring a rural area in Pioneer — about 6 miles from the family’s home — where authorities suspected the man had been buried. Roughly five hours later, deputies found a freshly dug, shallow grave with Lance Purdy’s remains, sheriff’s officials said.

The investigation began days earlier — on Jan. 1 — when deputies received a call from a woman who said she was out of state, but was concerned about her husband who had flown home to check on their son earlier that day and had never called her. When deputies responded to the family’s home in Pine Grove, a town of roughly 2,200 people nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada about an hour outside of Sacramento, they found what they described as the scene of a homicide.


A neighbor in the area told authorities they also witnessed Sean Purdy leaving the family home quickly in a blue Subaru Outback and a pool of blood was discovered inside and around the home, sheriff’s officials said.

Authorities are still searching for evidence used in the killing. However, they did not elaborate on what type of evidence they are seeking. Sheriff’s officials have not said how they suspect Lance Purdy was killed or whether they have determined a motive in the slaying.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.