After four years, the killer or killers of Bill and Lena Chapman still remains on the loose.
The couple was found murdered in the burned remains of their Bear Creek Drive home in the early morning hours of Oct. 1, 2006. The person or persons responsible for their deaths probably set the home on fire to destroy evidence.
No one has been arrested in connection with the unsolved case, and detectives haven't released new information.
A candlelight vigil was held Saturday night at the former location of the couple's home, on 870 E. South Bear Creek Drive. About 150 family, friends, neighbors, community leaders and church members attended the event, said Alicia Cerruti, the couple's granddaughter.
"It's good to see that people are coming," she said.
Family members hope to keep the case fresh in people's mind with the hope that someone will come forward with information to help solve the case. The state is offering a $50,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest in the case.
"We are just waiting for somebody that will bring that piece that will crack open the case," Cerruti said. "We'll press on it until that happens."
Jim Chapman, one of three children the couple had, said relatives believe the person or persons responsible for the crime are still living in the Merced area.
"This is really an attack on the community," Cerruti said. "Just to know that people are still on the loose, it's just sickening."
Chapman said often murderers confess their crimes to a family member or a friend. The family wants someone to "man up" and provide information not only to solve the case, but also because it's the right thing to do, he said.
According to Chapman, there's got to be someone who knows what happened. "They were great people. Their murder needs to be solved."
Detectives haven't released a motive for the murder or what evidence was collected. Relatives have said the elderly couple didn't own anything valuable that would have made them a target for thieves. Lena, 81, was found in the couple's bedroom, and Bill, 91, was in the bathroom nearby.
Police say the Chapmans were assaulted sometime in the night by one person or more.
The couple had lived in Merced for more than 50 years.
Ralph and Bunny Busby, who were the couple's next-door neighbors for over 40 years, said the Chapmans are missed.
"It's been a terrible loss," Ralph said.
"We miss them everyday," Bunny added.
Debbie Jones and Phylisa Hickman, who attended the same church as the Chapmans, said they attended the vigil Saturday to "make sure there were enough people" to remind the public that the case still needs to be solved.
"I know it's possible to solve," Jones said.
Hickman said she hopes the person responsible for the murders will be held accountable for his or her actions.
"I pray that God will bring to light the person who did it, and bring (him or her) to justice," she said.
Relatives find hope with the case of Debi Whitlock, a 32-year-old Modesto resident killed in her home in 1988. Whitlock's mother, Jacque MacDonald, launched an advertising campaign to find the killer. In 1997, someone went to the police with a tip that led to the killer.
Last year, reward signs were placed on shopping carts at Save Mart -- located at G Street and Olive Avenue -- in hopes of someone coming forward with information in the Chapmans' case.
There also is a large reward sign on their burned-out home, which is surrounded by a chain-link fence.
Anyone with information about the murders is asked to call Merced police detective John Fister at (209) 385-4755, or the department's tip-line at (209) 385-4725. Callers can remain anonymous.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.