We are on the last chapter of our special series following the Bakersfield 3. What happened to Micah Holsonbake? He was the first of the three to seemingly run into foul play.
The last time Micah Holsonabke’s name made headlines it was coupled with grisly details of a severed arm found in a duffel bag in the Kern River last summer. The arm matched to Micah’s DNA. In the last few months since, his horrified and heartbroken family has been left to wonder if they’ll ever have the rest of his body to bury.
But that same family, who’s already uncovered key facts of Micah’s complex case are not backing down anytime soon. They’re seeking the truth, no matter how grim it may be.
“I know every time somebody passes away that they would light up a room if they walked in. I’m sure somebody would say ‘well Lance would light up a room when I walked into it’, but no I wouldn’t. Definitely wouldn’t. But Micah really would,” said his father, Lance Holsonbake.
“He was very intelligent, when he was a little kid we’d always call him stats because he would give you statistics on anything.”
Family recalls Micah’s love for football and the debate and forensics teams. After a year of college at Harding University. He joined the Navy, but was eventually discharged because of reoccurring issues with growths in his throat. Back in Bakersfield, he started his own family and began a successful career in banking.
“He started out as a teller, but trained and trained and got his licenses to be a broker, financial advisor … that was 99% of his life.”
But towards the end of his life, things took a turn.
“The last two years of his life he was just absolutely not the same person … he had changed dramatically.”
Lance Holsonbake says after going through a rocky separation, he believes his son became addicted to pain medication he was prescribed after several surgeries on his throat. Things went downhill from there.
“He was very afraid for his life and involved in some things that, at first, I didn’t know what they were, and he’d never behaved before, so when he would tell me ‘I’m afraid of this guy and this guy is in this group or whatever,’ I would think he was paranoid. He always thought someone was following us in the car, so I thought he’s paranoid. And I didn’t know how much of it was real or how much of it was just exaggerated in his mind by any kind of drug use he may have been using at the time.”
Lance says Micah also confided something in him at the time he just couldn’t believe.
“‘I’m putting together guns. I’m going here and putting together guns for these particular people’ and of course at the time I’m thinking, ‘No you’re not.’ … I wish I’d taken him more seriously.”
While Lance wasn’t convinced his banker son could’ve taken such a drastic turn career wise, he did have some stern words for Micah after hearing about the gun manufacturing
“I’m thinking, why is he saying this because this doesn’t make sense. And I said why are you doing that, stop. Just stop, just get out of there … If you’re this afraid, just stop. And he’d say, ‘I can’t do that I can’t do that.’ He was afraid he did that they would hurt his family.”
By late March 2018, Micah was seen for the last time in East Bakersfield
“Micah was mixed up for the first time in his life in things that were illegal … he’s a grown man, he’s had his own family, you know, separated from his family at the time. So it’s logical for the police to think, ‘Yeah he got out of town, he’s hiding out.'”
But family instantly felt otherwise, and took it upon themselves to start investigating.
“My youngest son was talking to people and somebody says you need to talk to Baylee Parrent. He came to me and said they said something about Baylee Parrent and I said I don’t know who that is, and he said I don’t think it’s a person I think it’s like a gang in Louisiana, I said Luke I don’t think you heard that right…but we didn’t know who it was. And I think within a week we saw she was missing in Bakersfield.”
Upon realizing Baylee Parrent was Baylee Despot, Lance’s first thought: “I think these are connected. I think one is the result of the other…In the meantime, Cheryl had been talking to Diane because Micah knew James…they all came from the same group of people, and it’s not a huge group.”
Lance says long before the three mothers officially formed the Bakersfield 3, long before groups of thousands of people began theorizing on the cases on the internet,”I thought I know what happened. So when people would start mentioning well there’s this group of people, this scary gang of people, maybe some bikers, this that and the other, I thought um, okay, so we’ll write all that down, we’ll report all of that to the police, but I’m staying focused on this right now. Because this seems like the most likely scenario.”
Lance says when you boil it down,it’s simple.
“Just to be blunt, something happened to Micah, I think I know where, I think I know what happened to him. 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.”
The last several months for the Holsonbake family have been especially difficult.
“It’s just hard. I actually don’t even know how to put it in words, to hope that the worst is true. But we knew Micah wasn’t alive. So I thought maybe if we identified some part of Micah it would be a relief, and change the way we feel, that we’d feel a little better. But no, we don’t feel better, we just feel different.”
Lance says there was no way to prepare for the news the family got a week before Christmas
“There’s a sense of OK, still a feeling of OK we know for sure he’s not alive. We have something to have a burial. But at the other time, you’re dealing with what have they done to my son? Who, what did you do to my son that he’s dismembered? You dismembered him. And that is really hard. That’s just really hard to think that they would have to do that.”
Lance says despite the family hearing that some of the people possibly involved in the case are very dangerous, he doesn’t plan to back down until they have answers.
“If something happens to your son, you’re not gonna be intimidated by anybody, that was my son, how can you even expect that I’m going to be afraid of anybody? of course I’m going to ask questions or talk to people. That doesn’t come into the equation, not because I’m a tough mean person, but because that was my son and this is what happened to him and I’m not intimidated by anybody who doesn’t want me to find out. That’s too bad if they don’t want me to find out. We’re gonna find out.”
If you have any information on Micah’s case, you’re urged to call the Bakersfield Police Department at 661-327-7111, or you can remain anonymous by calling Secret Witness at 661-322-4040.