Several years ago, Bill Stidman and his wife, Jean, opened their Rio Linda home to foster children.
His family says it was a move characteristic of Stidman’s kindness and character.
“He was an open-hearted person,” said his son Zachary Stidman, 26.“He liked to help out in any way he can.”
On Sunday night, as Father’s Day was coming to a close, one of several foster children living with the Stidmans invited a friend into the family’s Dolphin Way home. An altercation followed. By night’s end, Bill Stidman was dead and his family grieving.
By Tuesday’s end, detectives had arrested that 16-year-old friend on suspicion of murder, said Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Bowman. The boy, whose name has not been released because he is a juvenile, was taken into custody at his Sacramento home, Bowman said.
As investigators continued to track down leads leading up to the arrest, loved ones on Tuesday mourned the loss of a man who had dedicated his life to the military, to law enforcement and to the education of children.
Born in Bremerton, Wash., Stidman lived most of his adult life in the Sacramento region, according to his son. After four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Stidman worked as a police officer in Susanville and later as a security guard. His license is still current, according to the state’s Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.
Most recently, Stidman worked as a dispatcher in San Juan Unified School District’s maintenance and operations division. He joined the district in the 1996-1997 school year as a security officer, said spokesman Trent Allen.
“Bill was a fixture in San Juan, known as a friendly hard worker who cared about kids and our community,” Allen said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Stidman hoped to retire in a few years, his son said. According to a comment on Facebook, Bill Stidman entertained thoughts of moving back to his beloved hometown of Bremerton.
The father of four grown children and stepfather to a fifth, Bill became a foster parent a few years ago with his wife, Jean, Zachary said. They currently have several children in their home; Bowman said the children ranged in age from 8 to 16 years old.
Zachary Stidman declined to discuss what he was told about the shooting.
Instead, he described his father as an outdoorsman who loved camping and fishing. When at home, he enjoyed watching football and baseball, with a particular fondness for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco Giants.
“He was a kind-hearted, caring man,” Zachary Stidman said. “He would give the shirt off his back, give you his last dollar.”
Zachary Stidman said he was busy working Sunday and had not had a chance to call his dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day.
Living with that, he said, is not easy.
The next day, Zachary posted a picture of himself and his dad to his Facebook page. Messages of grief and condolences from loved ones soon followed.