Son allegedly kills father, dismembers body

KRCR News Channel 7 tracks a Redding murder investigation

REDDING, Calif. - "In my almost 21 years here at the Sheriff's Office I haven't seen a case where, you know, a child murdered a father with these type of circumstances," said Shasta County Sheriff's Sergeant Pat Kropholler in his office Friday.

Kropholler and his team believe 19-year-old James Bland killed his father; 63-year-old Steven Bland, then dismembered his body, burned it, then buried it at their Redding home at 20145 Penrod Way where the two lived together.

His motive, according to the Sheriff's Office -- greed.

The investigation into the elder Bland's disappearance began on June 23, 2014 after Bland's relatives reported him missing to the Sheriff's Office. According to them, his son, James had dropped him off at a Greyhound station in Redding around April 3, 2014 to visit family in Orange County. He apparently told James that if no one heard from him for two months to go-ahead and split up his belongings amongst the family. Since the alleged drop off no one has heard from Steven.

Detectives immediately launched an investigation.

Sgt. Kropholler said they became suspicious when they found no evidence the father had left the Redding area.

"We checked with all the transit authorities in Shasta County, airlines, bus authority, train station and found that he has not purchased a ticket out of town. He left his vehicle here, there was no mode of him leaving town that we could find."

"In my almost 21 years here at the Sheriff's Office I haven't seen a case where, you know, a child murdered a father with these type of circumstances," - Sheriff's detective

Detectives began to grow suspicious.

"The story just didn't make sense to us," Kropholler said.

While the Sheriff's Office Major Crimes division looked into Steven's disappearance, detectives got a tip that soon brought a new twist to the case.

An acquaintance of James came forward and told detectives that James had confided in him that he had killed a rival drug dealer over marijuana. That person told detectives James was actually bragging about the killing and had showed him the body buried in a shallow grave behind the home where James and his father lived.

The friend told detectives that James had dismembered the body and was attempting to burn it.

Detectives said James then eventually moved the remains once again to a second location on the property and buried them in an area where he and his father were growing marijuana together.

But according to detectives, that location still is not the final resting place of Steven Bland.

"He then got more nervous about the body being there and then exhumed it and took the remains to somewhere in a remote area of Shasta County," explained Sergeant Pat Kropholler.

Upon hearing the accounts from James' friend about a body on the property detectives began to narrow their scope as to what happened to his father.

"The story just didn't make sense to us," - Detective

"The circumstances were so similar and the time frame was so similar," said Kropholler.

As detectives looked into James they found he had been using Steven's bank card and withdrew several thousand dollars from his account. On July 14, they arrested James during a traffic stop. He was arrested for grand theft and unauthorized use of Steven's bank card.

With James in jail the next day detectives served a search warrant at the home on Penrod Way. Sergeant Kropholler said two grave sites were located and excavated.

Kropholler described the grisly details of what his team found.

"We actually found a fully intact hand and several pieces of burnt bone, including skull fragments, parts of a vertebrae and several teeth."

For now, forensic studies and DNA testing are being conducted on the remains but detectives are confident they are those of Steven.

As to what would motivate the 19-year-old to kill his father?

Kropholler believes greed was the main factor.

"Our belief was that it was motivated by greed."

Kropholler said Steven likely told James now that he was 19 he needed to get out of his house and live on his own, but according to deputies James wouldn't have it.

"Our belief was that it was motivated by greed."

"The son had nowhere to go and decided to kill his father in order to stay in the house and take his money," Kropholler said.

"From our accounts no job, no means of income, we do believe that both the son and father were involved with marijuana sales so we believe that he killed his father because he wanted his money," he continued.

Detectives also believe there was processed marijuana at the house that James wanted to sell and profit from.

How James allegedly killed his father has not exactly been determined, but Kropholler said a firearm is thought to have been used.

Detectives said there are no other victims or suspects in the case.

On Monday morning James is set to be arraigned for the first degree murder of his father Steven.

Now, detectives continue to search for the final remains for Steven's body and said they hope they can give Steven's family, who live out of state, some answers.

"We're hoping that James grows a conscience and will take us to where he placed the other parts of his father's remains so the family can have closure," said Kropholler


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