William and Katherine Chiapella Murder Case: Where Is Steven Crittenden Today?

Photographs of Katherine Chiapella and Dr. William Chiapella were displayed Friday in Placer County Superior Court in Roseville

Dr. William and Katherine Chiapella, who were 68 and 67 years old at the time, were discovered in their Downing Avenue house by their son, Joseph, who is also a physician, in January 1987. Both had been chained, gagged, and stabbed many times, as well as bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher around the head. Steven Crittenden, the man accused of killing a Chico couple in 1987, has pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and other offences.

Despite the fact that William and Katherine Chiapella was murdered on January 13, 1987, their bodies were discovered four days later by their son, Joseph Chiapella. The brutal murder stunned the town, which couldn’t comprehend why anyone would want to destroy such a peaceful pair.

Evil Lives Here: Keeping My Brother’s Secret,’ from Investigation Discovery, takes viewers through the murder and demonstrates how an encashed check led the investigators right to the murderer. If you’re wondering where William and Katherine’s killer is right now, we’ve got you covered.

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William and Katherine Chiapella Murder

What Happened to William and Katherine Chiapella?

William and Katherine Chiapella, residents of Chico, California, had a high social status. Their acquaintances described them as generous and kindhearted individuals, and William was a well-known neighbourhood doctor.

They were well-off, yet they never flaunted their money, preferring instead to aid those in need. Unfortunately, the couple was eventually targeted and murdered because of their wealth, as fate would have it.

On January 13, 1987, as the Chiapellas got home, they were ambushed by an assailant who had previously broken into their home. The assailant then proceeded to assault the couple, forcing Katherine to write him a $3000 check. Before stabbing William and Katherine to death, he plundered them of various valuable goods.

After receiving no news from the couple for several days, their son, Dr. Joseph Chiapella, became concerned and decided to visit them on January 17, 1987. When he entered the house, however, he was confronted with the horrific sight of his father’s dismembered body on the floor.

Joseph later stated that he had phoned the police and was in the process of reporting his father’s murder when he discovered his mother’s death. When the cops arrived on the scene, they discovered that both victims had died from multiple stab wounds.

Officers noted the stolen items, including Katherine’s chequebook, which was missing four pages, in addition to the indicators of forced entry. As a result, after determining that the fatalities were homicides, the police launched a detailed investigation into the occurrence.

Steven Crittenden
Steven Crittenden

Who Was Responsible for the Deaths of William and Katherine Chiapella?

When authorities were investigating the murder, they spoke with William and Katherine’s friends and learned that the pair was very nice and had no enemies. Furthermore, because there were few leads to follow at the crime scene, the investigation was initially delayed.

However, the Chiapellas had hired Chico State student Steven Crittenden to do some yard work a few months before the murder, according to the interviews.

Despite the fact that Steven was hired on a weekly basis, he only worked for one week before disappearing. Then, the police decided to pay him a visit to question about the murders, still looking for a lead or a clue.

Chico Enterprise-Record news clipping

Surprisingly, Steven was nowhere to be seen when officials arrived at his home. Officers were also able to track down the missing checks from Katherine’s chequebook, discovering that one of them was written out to Steven Crittenden and cashed for $3000 on January 14, the day following the murder, at a local Bank of America branch.

Steven’s unusual departure, combined with the check, convinced cops that he was involved in the double murder. Steven was caught and charged with two charges of murder and one count of armed robbery when he returned to Chico on January 21.

Steven Crittenden

What Has Happened to Steven Crittenden and Where Is He Now?

Steven Crittenden insisted on his innocence after being detained, but he was held in the Butte County Jail while awaiting his trial. Steven, on the other hand, escaped from the Butte prison in May 1987, grabbed Doug Kronen, an Oroville resident, and forced him to drive to Sacramento.

Fortunately, the accused was apprehended and sent to prison before the situation escalated. In October of 1987, while still incarcerated, Steven married his girlfriend, Diane Fishbaugh.

Steven’s case was transferred to Placer County in August 1988, and sources suggest that he attempted to break out of prison again on September 26 of that year. However, Steven’s attempt to flee was unsuccessful, and his trial commenced in March 1989.

Steven was found guilty of two charges of first-degree murder, as well as breaking out of jail and kidnapping, at his trial. As a result, he was sentenced to death in 1989 and imprisoned at San Quentin State Prison.

Steven attempted to appeal his case in the years that followed, and in 2013, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller overturned his murder conviction. Despite the fact that a retrial was scheduled, Steven pleaded guilty to both murders in April 2021.

He also admitted to first-degree robbery, use of a lethal weapon, as well as accusations of kidnapping and escape. Steven was sentenced to 63 years to life in prison in 2021, based on his guilty plea. Steven is currently serving time at Folsom State Prison and will be available for parole in 2035.

Stream ‘Evil Lives Here: Keeping My Brother’s Secret,’ Season 11 Episode 8  on Investigation Discovery.