Arrest made in 1997 rape, attempted murder of local woman Cari Anderson

Crime Watch

KGET special reports revived interest in Anderson's case in 2018

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) –Three years ago, Bakersfield was captivated by the story of a rape victim struggling to survive 23 years after a vicious attack left her with a traumatic head injury and a broken soul aching for justice.

There was incredible news Monday: The Bakersfield Police Department cold case unit, applying 21st-century science to 20th-century DNA, has linked a Tulsa, Okla. man to the 1997 attack.

Michael Allen Fontes, 47, was taken into custody Friday in Fresno with the assistance of the U.S. Marshal’s Office. He’s held on charges including attempted murder, rape and aggravated mayhem and is set to be formally arraigned Tuesday.

Fontes is accused of raping and leaving for dead Cari Anderson, now 62, who was found naked and bloodied behind the GET bus maintenance yard on Golden State Highway near F Street. Her throat was slit and her head pummeled.

Anderson told 17 News in 2018 she has virtually no short-term memory — and she can’t recall the attack that occurred the Sunday before Thanksgiving 1997.

In 2018, former 17 News crime reporter Olivia LaVoice profiled Anderson and her daily struggles since the attack

After the story ran, hundreds of local people offered prayers and support for Anderson. Volunteers across Kern came together to refurbish Anderson’s disheveled home in Oildale.

A lifelong bond was formed between Anderson and LaVoice, now working in Seattle.

The attack left Anderson with devastating physical disabilities. A month passed before she could speak. She permanently lost her sense of smell and taste. She had to re-learn how to walk, how to bathe herself.

But the emotional scars were sometimes worse, Anderson told LaVoice.

Anderson said she  knows the scars from her throat being slit will never fade, her memory will never improve, she’ll never get back her brain function. But she wonders if maybe one day life could be a little brighter.

Despite living in constant terror her attackers will come back for her, Anderson made the decision to tell her story to LaVoice because she feels she has to fight for justice. She feels it’s the only way she’ll ever have a real chance at happiness again.

Anderson feels finding the truth about the night of the attack could change her life, for the better.

“Justice means I get to close this case for myself … I get to live again,” she told LaVoice in 2018.

17 News Special Report: Mystery at the Buckhorn (2018)

Police said the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call Detective Lance O’Nesky at 661-326-3275 or the Bakersfield Police Department at 661-327-7111.

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