BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The boys saw a bag floating in the river by Hart Park. Thinking it might contain money, they retrieved it. One of them looked inside.
At first the boy thought he saw a chicken. Then he withdrew the object and realized he was holding a human arm.
The boy dropped the arm and he notified law enforcement of the grisly discovery. A sheriff’s investigator testified to what the boy told him and how coroner’s officials retrieved the arm for testing.
Months later, the severely decomposed limb was identified as belonging to Micah Holsonbake. Authorities say he was tortured and killed by Matthew Queen and Baylee Despot in a case involving what’s become known as the “Bakersfield 3.”
On Wednesday, investigators from the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office testified at Queen’s preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to run two days. At the end of the hearing, a judge will decide whether prosecutors presented enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Queen faces dozens of counts involving several incidents, and testimony was heard regarding three of them Wednesday morning.
The most serious charges against Queen — murder and torture — stem from Holsonbake’s death. Prosecutors say Queen and Despot, whom he dated, placed zip ties on Holsonbake’s arms and tortured him to extract information.
Multiple investigators testified Wednesday that a black zip tie was found around the wrist of the decomposed arm.
The killing of Holsonbake occurred in a detached garage belonging to Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele, prosecutors say. He’s charged with kidnapping and conspiracy and is due in court Thursday.
Despot is charged with torture and murder but went missing in 2018 and has not been heard from since.
The Bakersfield 3 refers to three acquaintances who were either killed or went missing within two months of each other in 2018.
Holsonbake was last seen around Flower Street and Mount Vernon Avenue on March 23, 2018. His arm was recovered from the river Aug. 19, 2018. The rest of his body has not been found.
Despot disappeared about a month later.
The third person — James Kulstad — was shot and killed in southwest Bakersfield on April 8, 2018. No one has been arrested in his killing. He knew both Holsonbake and Despot.