A Teenager, Motivated By Greed, Slaughtered His Family — What To Know Before ‘Family Massacre’ Premieres

When someone is ruthlessly murdered, it’s always a shock. When multiple members of the same family are slaughtered in cold blood, it’s even more unsettling and unthinkable.  

How could it happen? Who could do something so heinous? Did investigators catch the killer? Those are the burning questions at the core of “Family Massacre,” premiering Friday, December 3 at 9/8c on Archiweekend. The answers come to light through firsthand accounts from survivors’ relatives and investigators. 

In one particularly appalling mass slaying featured in the show, three members of a family were shot to death and then incinerated in their El Dorado County, California vacation home by one of their own. In advance of the series premiere, here’s what you need to know about this case.

Who are the victims?

Adam Buchanan, 38, his fiancé, Molly McAfee, 37, and their 8-year-old son, Gavin Buchanan. Adam owned and ran a construction company, where Molly was the office manager, and Gavin was a third grader, according to a Times-Herald obituary. 

How did the crime go down?

The three were reported missing following a fire on September 13, 2015 at the Buchanan vacation cabin about 50 miles from Sacramento, reported Remains found in the cabin were identified as those of the missing trio. All three victims had been shot with a .22 caliber rifle before the fire, according to

Where did the investigation lead?

On September 30, just over two weeks after the murders, Nolan Buchanan, Adam’s 16-year-old son, was arrested at his high school in Benicia, California, reported 

The announcement of the arrest was made by El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini at a news conference. The District Attorney stated that Nolan Buchanan was charged as an adult in the three murders.

Shocking evidence discovered at the scene pointed to the teen as the killer. Nolan Buchanan was convicted of the murders on June 13, 2018. He was sentenced to 150 years, with a possibility of parole in 25 years.

To learn about how he was identified as the killer, what his disturbing motive was, and his defense at the trial, watch “Family Massacre,” premiering Friday, December 3 at 9/8c on Archiweekend.

Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Archiweekend’s original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Archiweekend Insider for all the best true crime content. 

Written by Stephanie Green

I am dreamer and book reader.

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