Tuesday, August 10, 2010


On July 21, 2007, the Foglesong family was in the living room of their home in Willows, California, when 59-year-old Bud walked into the house badly burned. Skin was falling off his arms. His son Kurt drove him the 10 miles to the Willows Hospital. Bud told Kurt that he had gone into the nearby duck cabin on the family compound to use the bathroom. When he opened the front door of the cabin, it blew up, knocking him back off of his feet. Bud was the air lifted to the Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. He died early the next day.

Bud was a Senior Captain with World Airways and a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel. For 34 years he was married to Jan Holzapfel, whose brother is Glenn County District Attorney Bob Holzapfel. Her other brother is Herb Holzapfel, a widely known and influential farmer. He is chairman of the board of the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative, the largest rice exporter in the state, and runs the family’s extensive rice-growing operations.

Those operations are headquartered on an isolated compound located off County Road 60 southeast of Willows. Several residences are clustered on one side of the compound and at the time were occupied by Bud and Jan Foglesong, their daughter Anne, son Kurt and his family, and two households of Holzapfels.

It was widely known in the community that there was bad blood between Roy Holzapfel and Bud Foglesong. On November 5, 2006, they got into a fight, during which one of Foglesong’s fingers was permanently maimed, potentially threatening his career as a commercial pilot. Just days before Bud’s death, he was informed that the state Attorney General’s Office planned to file charges the next week against Roy Holzapfel for misdemeanor battery. Bud was quite pleased and had made no secret of the fact that he intended to sue Roy Holzapfel after the criminal case was concluded.

Around 5 o’clock on the afternoon of the incident, Bud said he was going to a small house on the property a little less than a mile away. The cabin was used as a base for duck hunting and a rest area for employees. When Bud entered the cabin a fire broke out, possibly as the result of an explosion.

Although he was in shock, Bud somehow he had managed to drive back to the house. Upon entering he said, “It exploded.”

Arson and bomb detectives were called to the cabin. Their investigation determined the fire was the result or arson.

Problems with the investigation include:

  1. During the initial investigation, the family members who had last been with Bud on the day he died were not interviewed. His daughter Anne, who was the last person to speak with him, was interviewed a full six months after the fire; 
  2. The original fire investigator on the scene was a rookie doing his first investigation. When attempting to test for the presence of gasoline the batteries on his equipment ran down and the test wasn’t completed. The analysis was never performed; 
  3. Evidence such as clothing was not secured in sealed containers for eight hours, and the chain of custody was unclear; 
  4. Nurses and others who treated Foglesong, were not interviewed; 
  5. Cell phone records that could have shown where various people were and who they talked at critical times were not examined; 
  6. Although the sheriff’s office failed to call in an experienced forensic fire investigators; and 
  7. The investigation lacked clear leadership and direction. 

In December 2008, under pressure from the Foglesong family, the sheriff announced he was reopening the investigation. But there has been little or no progress since then.

The family continues its quest to find out what really happened to Bud Foglesong.
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