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He Didn’t Have To Die

I read with horror the article about the murder of James (Jim) Whetstone (69) in the local papers this past October. The article left no doubt that Jim was murdered. He had been reported missing for about a week. The articles said that after some time the authorities found his body in a fresh shallow grave covered with debris on the family property. The authorities soon afterwards arrested his son James P. Whetstone (29) for the father’s murder. 

James Andrew & James Presley Whetstone

Now some may ask why a person down in Santa Rosa would be so mortified about a murder clear up in Willits. I have learned in 85 years that friendship knows no mileage or timeline. I had known the father, Jim, back in 1970 when he did some welding work for me. He was a fine welder and the pipe he welded is still in use. Jim also needed, at that time, to find a place to set up his welding business. In 1975 I had just constructed a fine metal building. On one end was a closed in room with a concrete floor and a roll up side door. The room was ideal for a welding shop. It came complete with 220 phase electric plugs, water just outside and very accessible. There always seemed to be a need for some welding around the ranch. He seemed to want to settle down. Jim stayed for a few years. He was then married to April, and wanted to settle down and raise a family. 

I didn’t see Jim for many years but again we crossed paths somewhere around 1990. At that time, he was in the carpentry business.  Ironically, I had just finished a room in a hay barn where I could bunk on long days, and did want to drive back to Santa Rosa. He graciously built one of the finest set of cabinets I have ever seen. Complete with spaces for the ovens, dish washer, and all accessories necessary for a kitchen. For all of this he charged a modest amount.  Somewhere about this time he had divorced April and married Debbie.  I think I met her only once. A beautiful blond lady. They seemed to be able to have children, and at that time they had three.

I ran into Jim just a few years ago at the Savings Bank of Mendocino County in Hopland. He was living just south of town. He was now in the metal business, mainly pot metal. He invited me to stop by. “Be sure to call first,” he said. I stopped by only one time. We chatted for a short time.   I looked at his product. He and Debbie had 7 children and everything seemed just fine. 

I became concerned about Jim shortly after my visit. The Ukiah Daily Journal ran an article about a younger Whetstone being involved is some ruckus with his father. There was only one article, so I dismissed it from my mind. 

The murder of my friend Jim has weighed on me. I looked up the name Whetstone in an old phone book I kept.  I am sure you know that the phone company no longer publishes a phone book, so if you have an old one, hang onto it.   

I found a Whetstone in the old book. To make sure I had the correct Whetstone, I called a friend of mine who lives in Willits. Lee is my age and an old-timer in Willits. He indicated that most probably the correct person for me to express my condolences was his mother, who lived on Valley _____.

I called the listed number and it was correct. Jim’s mother answered. After introductions, she led me through what she saw on that tragic day. Mrs. Whetstone is 95 years old now, but there was no doubt what she told me was true. I’m not sure if I feel any better now by having talked to her.

Mrs. Whetstone told me that Jim’s remains were taken to the coast and scattered. This is an example of our county needing more mental health service.

Previously: Missing Man Murdered By Son

One Comment

  1. Santa Rosa Mike January 17, 2021

    Is there a follow up piece to be released? All the build up and no details of the tenuous relationship between father and son or the murder itself??

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