Outside the Coburn house, the curious crowd was growing. Reporters from San Francisco and San Mateo joined the Pescaderans as well as private detectives looking for a new case and attorneys protecting the interests of their clients.
Word spread that Wally was the main suspect and the detectives came to his defense. They seemed to be familiar with Wally, insisting that he couldn’t have done it. For one thing, a light was necessary and Wally was incapable of lighting a coal oil lamp.
Swart had tried to interrogate Wally but gave up when Wally didn’t respond in the expected way. And the D.A. squelched the private detective’s theory by pointing out that Wally didn’t have to light the coal oil lamp–Sarah kept it lit day and night.
As for the locals, the Pescaderans were divided on whether Wally was the murderer. There were some who said his condition prevented him from planning and carrying out a murder. Others shook their heads and said he was the only other person in the house.
Mrs. Joseph Quilla, who took Wally for walks everyday, was one who did not believe him capable of murdering his stepmother. That was why she didn’t want him in her house–in her mind, Wally was innocent, and the real killer could break into her house and do away with him.
Andy Stirling said he knew Wally and his “volcanic temper.” Once when he was visiting the Coburn house, he claimed that Wally “…struck Mr. Coburn once and made a swing at Mrs. Coburn with the poker and then dropped his hand…”
Continuing, Stirling said Wally was friendlier to Mrs. Harrison, the housekeeper, than he was toward his stepmother. And a few days before Sarah’s murder, Andy witnessed Wally “driving nails into a plank. Mrs. Coburn came out and aid something; he cried and swore at her. She said, ‘Now Wally, don’t do that,’ and he began to holler and then ran down the street…” On that occasion “the boy” had to be dragged back home.