‘Bakersfield 3’: Matthew Queen and Baylee Despot charged with murder in death of Micah Holsonbake

Bakersfield 3

Charges of torture, kidnapping and dozens more also filed

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday charged a man and woman connected to what’s known as the “Bakersfield 3” case with murder, torture and a couple dozen other crimes.

Matthew Queen, 43, is already in custody on several other cases involving kidnapping and firearms violations. An arraignment date for the new charges has not yet been scheduled.

Also charged with murder and torture is Baylee Despot, who has been missing for two years.

“Although Baylee Despot has been reported missing since 2018, there is no known physical evidence that definitively confirms her possible death,” prosecutors said. “As a result of the filing of charges, an arrest warrant will be issued for Baylee Despot’s arrest.”

The two are accused of killing Micah Holsonbake, whose arm was recovered in the Kern River but the rest of his body has not been found.

A third defendant, Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele is charged with kidnapping and conspiracy in the case.

Zimmer said Queen asked to use Vandecasteele’s detached garage to extract information from Holsonbake. Queen and Despot arrived at the garage with Holsonbake, placed zip ties on his arms and retrieved a knife.

Holsonbake was killed, and Queen and Vandecasteele researched how to dissolve a human body, according to the DA.

The case will be prosecuted by DA Homicide Supervisor Eric Smith.

“This years-long investigation was made possible by the combined efforts of the Bakersfield Police
Department and the District Attorney’s office,” Zimmer said. “Our common goal is to never stop searching for answers on homicide crimes, and our combined dedication to solving this case has never wavered.”

File photo of Matthew Queen

Queen has long been suspected of involvement with the Bakersfield 3 case, where three friends were either killed or went missing within two months of each other in 2018.

Holsonbake went missing in east Bakersfield and was last seen around Flower Street and Mount Vernon Avenue on March 23, 2018. Months later an arm identified as belonging to Holsonbake was found in the Kern River near Hart Park.

About a month after Holsonbake disappeared, Despot, Queen’s former girlfriend, went missing. Police confirmed a link later that year between the two cases but no arrests were made. Thousands of fliers were posted around town, but Despot never turned up.

Both Despot and Holsonbake knew Queen and ran in the same circles.

The third person in the “Bakersfield 3” — 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.

Meeting a new crowd

Despot’s family has said Despot began hanging out with a new crowd and doing drugs in spring 2017. She was arrested on a charge of drunk and disorderly conduct in July 2017 in front of Holsonbake’s home.

Six months later, she was arrested with new boyfriend Queen after police pulled them over and discovered four loaded guns in their vehicle, including an AR-15 and a 9mm rifle. Neither of the high-powered weapons had identifying marks.

Despot took a deal with prosecutors, pleading no contest to  misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm and carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle.

Afterward, she moved in with Queen. Months later, she went missing.

From banker to making guns

After a year of college at Harding University, Holsonbake joined the Navy but was eventually discharged because of recurring issues with growths in his throat. He moved back to Bakersfield, started his own family and began a successful career in banking. 

In a 2019 interview, Lance Holsonbake, Micah Holsonbake’s father, said he believes his son became addicted to pain medication after separating from his wife undergoing several surgeries on his throat. He told his father he’d become involved with a rough crowd.

Micah Holsonbake told his father he feared for his life.

Lance Holsonbake said his son told him, “I’m putting together guns. I’m going here and putting together guns for these particular people.”

Then his son disappeared. DNA testing later identified the arm found in the Kern River as belonging to Micah Holsonbake.

“Just to be blunt, something happened to Micah, I think I know where, I think I know what happened to him,” Lance Holsonbake said in 2019. “I’m pretty sure. It’s not that complicated, and a month later something happened to Baylee, and I think it’s because she knew what happened to Micah.”

Gunned down in southwest Bakersfield

Kulstad’s loved ones have said he had an entrepreneurial spirit. He had owned a skate shop and gotten a patent for an invention he called “torch trucks.”

He had friends in common with Holsonbake and Despot, some of them with lengthy rap sheets.

His daughter, Camryn, told 17 News in March of last year she holds out hope his killing will be solved.

“These people, yeah they’re scary people, but we’re so much bigger than them,” she said.” As a community we can stand together, we can figure it out, and we can figure out other missing people who don’t have a voice and (other) murder victims.”

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