‘Bakersfield 3’ member Micah Holsonbake was afraid of murder suspect Matthew Queen, became increasingly paranoid before he disappeared, documents say

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Micah Holsonbake had become increasingly paranoid, saying people were after him and he couldn’t relax, according to court documents.

Holsonbake was illegally manufacturing firearms with some other people, a witness told police, including a man Holsonbake said he was afraid of. That man was Matthew Queen, the witness said.

The witness told police they believed Holsonbake was just paranoid from his drug use when he voiced his concerns. But in March 2018 Holsonbake disappeared.

Months later, an arm identified as Holsonbake’s was recovered from the Kern River. The rest of his body has not been found.

The witness’s comments are contained in newly released court documents — the first 300 pages of what is expected to be a lengthy police report — filed by police in an investigation that led to charges of murder, among other crimes, against Queen and Baylee Despot, and kidnapping and conspiracy charges against Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele.

Queen, 43, pleaded not guilty earlier this month and is next due in court July 20. He has been in custody since his arrest last summer on firearms and kidnapping charges.

The documents say Queen has been referred to as “the boogeyman of Bakersfield.”

Vandecasteele is in custody in another county and has no court date scheduled yet.

Despot, who was Queen’s girlfriend, has been missing since April 2018. Prosecutors charged her because “there is no known physical evidence that definitively confirms her possible death,” and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Holsonbake and Despot are two members of what’s become known as the “Bakersfield 3,” in reference to three people who ran in the same circles and either disappeared or were killed within months of each other. The third person, James Kulstad, was shot dead in April 2018. No arrests have been made in his killing.

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

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

Holsonbake’s name is redacted from the new documents, but the circumstances described in the court filings make it apparent he’s the person being referred to.

In the documents, the witness who told investigators about Holsonbake’s paranoia said the last time the witness saw Holsonbake was when he called the witness to pick him up at night from an orchard on Rosedale Highway past Wegis Avenue. Holsonbake was “very scared” as he gave the witness directions on where to pick him up.

The witness arrived in the area and saw Holsonbake approaching from a distance, the documents say. A police officer then pulled over and contacted Holsonbake, leading to his arrest.

When the witness later spoke to Holsonbake, he told the witness he couldn’t talk about what had happened but confirmed he had been with Queen and a woman that night, according to the documents. The witness believed the woman was Despot.

Also included in the documents are descriptions of kidnappings linked to Queen that have previously been reported, including an incident where Queen allegedly questioned a victim — not Holsonbake — about stealing a gun part after handcuffing the victim and putting an electric dog collar around his neck.

In another incident, a witness said Queen and Vandecasteele were involved in manufacturing AR-15s from gun build kits, and on one occasion the two showed up armed at a hotel where the witness was staying. The witness said he shut his door, hid in the bathroom and called police because he believed he was going to be killed, the documents say.

The witness said he had told Despot where where he was staying, and she must have told Queen and Vandecasteele. The witness believed he was about to be killed because he had been arrested “with a large quantity of narcotics that he was fronted or given without paying for them and the people who had gave him the narcotics could have been upset,” according to the documents.

Police reviewed surveillance footage from the hotel, which they say shows Queen and Vandecasteele approach the witness from different directions while he stands in the door of his room. The witness slams the door shut and Vandecasteele, armed with an AR-15, attempts to use his body weight to force the door open, the documents say. He didn’t succeed.

Queen and Vandescasteele then enter a Dodge Charger driven by a woman and they leave the hotel’s parking lot, according to the documents.

Questioned following his arrest in July 2019, Queen denied being part of a criminal enterprise and claimed he could barely pay his bills, the documents say.

Police told him they wanted to question him about Despot’s disappearance as it was alleged he was the last person to be seen with her. Queen said that wasn’t true, that he had seen Despot with a Hispanic male and he had been trying to figure out who that person was when he was arrested, according to the documents.

He told investigators Despot was depressed and off her medications, and she had said she wanted to die.

“I told Matthew Queen that I heard that he was controlling over her and that he was afraid that she was cheating on him,” an investigator wrote in the documents. “Matthew Queen stated Despot never cheated on him.”

When the investigator told Queen there had been allegations of domestic violence involving him and Despot, some of which resulted in bruises, Queen said he never laid a hand on anyone. He told the detective Despot was clumsy.

It’s unclear when the other portions of the report will be released.

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