Man killed after breaking into home was convicted killer |

Man killed after breaking into home was convicted killer

by F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

A man shot to death by a Douglas County homeowner was deemed “insane” by a California judge after his conviction in the 1984 shooting death of an Antioch man, authorities said Wednesday.

Douglas County investigators uncovered 41-year-old Walter Francis Hetrick’s past during a criminal history check in his hometown, Antioch.

Hetrick was shot to death Saturday night by Charles Cryderman, 52, of East Valley.

Cryderman told police he found Hetrick banging on his door about 11:30 p.m., screaming and irate. When Cryderman shut the door, Hetrick began throwing bricks through the windows before breaking into the Log Cabin Road home as the family called 911 for help.

Cryderman fired a .357 caliber revolver, hitting Hetrick at least three times.

Hetrick died later from blood loss caused by a severed femoral artery.

According to a series of articles in the Contra Costa Times in October and November 1985, Hetrick, then 21, was found guilty of the October 1984 killing of Jessie Leon Haffner, 24.

Haffner was found shot several times in the head in the bathroom of his mother’s Antioch home.

According to the Times, Hetrick’s mother told police her son did the killing.

Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Gary Strankman ruled Hetrick was guilty of first-degree murder, but insane at the time of the crime and still suffering from mental illness.

His defense attorney told the judge Hetrick was a paranoid schizophrenic.

The district attorney said Hetrick gave three motives for the killing: he believed Haffner was responsible for the disappearance of young girls in the area and the killing was a public service; he wanted to collect on a reward for information in the disappearances; or he believed Haffner was having a relationship with his girlfriend, the articles report.

Hetrick was sentenced to 27 years to life in Atascadero State Prison.

Over the next 10 years, Hetrick also spent time at state hospitals in Patton and Napa, before being released in 1995.

According to Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Biaggini, Hetrick was on supervised probation with the California Department of Mental Health until three months ago.

Nora Romero, spokeswoman for the Department of Mental Health, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Biaggini said it was unclear why Hetrick was in Douglas County, or how long he’d been in the area.

No charges have been filed against Cryderman. The investigation will be forwarded to the Douglas County district attorney for review.