This may get complicated. I will try to explain.
Carl Coburn was the adopted nephew of Loren Coburn, a kind of replacement “son”–and a terrible disappointment. Some years earlier, Carl was involved in a messy financial scandal that took down several county supervisors.
I think it would be fair to say that Carl wanted to get rich quick, any way.
By 1919, Carl ran “The Emporium,” the candy store with wooden sidewalks in front. On San Gregorio Street [Stage Road], across the way from Loren and Sarah’s home.
On the day Sarah’s body was found, Carl was doing business in Redwood City. But the rumors of Mrs. Coburn’s death had somehow made their way to the county seat and Carl cut short his visit and suddenly appeared in Pescadero wanting to help the authorities.
Carl’s assistance consisted of telling the district attorney, sheriff, detectives, anyone that the murder might have been committed by poor Wally, who, Carl said, had been behaving strangely–violently.
He wasn’t alone, however. Other neighbors said they once found Wally trying to hit his stepmother–and when she asked him to stop pounding nails into a stick, he began cursing.