BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Micah Holsonbake, a member of what’s become known as the “Bakersfield 3,” was killed for allegedly stealing a gun from a man whom some refer to as the “boogeyman of Bakersfield,” according to a statement from a defendant contained in recently released court documents.
Other people whose interviews are in the court documents say Holsonbake dealt cocaine and owed money to a number of people including members of motorcycle gangs, and that he may have been killed over a drug debt, the documents say.
Regardless of the reason, the 34-year-old Holsonbake had reputedly gotten on the bad side of a number of people, according to the documents.
The court filings say detectives interviewed a convicted felon named Matthew Vandecasteele in November 2018 about Holsonbake’s disappearance.
Vandecasteele, 33, told investigators his garage was used by two people — Matthew Queen and Baylee Despot — to extract information from Holsonbake regarding a .44-caliber revolver stolen from Queen.
He said Queen and Despot were in his garage with Holsonbake for several hours one night in March 2018, the documents say. Vandecasteele claimed not to have seen or heard Holsonbake that night, but he knew the other two had brought him there to question him.
Eventually, Despot re-entered Vandecasteele’s apartment and “was visibly shaken, pale as a ghost and seem (sic) flustered and responded to a back bedroom to change her clothing …” the documents say.
Before Despot and Queen left, Queen told Vandecasteele that he had cleaned everything up and it was OK to go inside the garage, the documents say. Vandecasteele entered the garage and noticed a red grapefruit-sized grease spot.
The Kern Regional Crime Lab later concluded the stain tested positive for blood that was a DNA match to Holsonbake, according to the filings.
Queen, 43, and Despot are charged with torture, murder and other crimes in the death of Holsonbake. Prosecutors say Queen and Despot secured Holsonbake with zip ties then tortured and killed him.
Queen pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month.
The day after the garage incident, Vandecasteele told police, Queen returned to Vandecasteele’s residence and said he needed help disposing of something. Queen had a large black plastic storage container with a yellow lid in the rear of his SUV.
“Vandecasteele stated he believed the storage container had a body inside it, but does no know that for a fact,” the documents say.
He told Queen he didn’t want to leave his home, and Queen left, according to the documents. Queen returned to Vandecasteele’s residence several hours later and his SUV was muddy as if he had driven off-road with it, Vandecasteele said.
Vandecasteele found out Holsonbake was missing two days later, he told police.
Detectives questioned the veracity of Vandecasteele’s story, and insinuated he knew more about what had happened in the garage than he was revealing to them. But Vandecasteele denied hearing any screaming or yelling coming from the garage and said he didn’t know what exactly had occurred, according to the documents.
Months after Holsonbake’s disappearance, an arm identified as belonging to Holsonbake was found by two teens in the Kern River near Hart Park. The rest of his body has not been found.
The arm was partially covered by a sweatshirt inside a duffel bag that had been weighed down with rocks, according to the documents. The arm had a zip tie near the wrist and marks indicating it had been intentionally severed with a saw.
A pathologist said decomposition made it impossible to tell whether the arm had been cut off before or after Holsonbake was dead, the filings say.
One person interviewed by police said they believed Holsonbake’s body had been dissolved with acid, according to the documents. Other people believed his remains had been buried on the outskirts of Taft.
Detectives searched Vandecasteele’s Gmail account and found it contained searches during the week of Holsonbake’s disappearance for “lye chemical formula,” “lye for sale” and “how long does it take to dissolve a human body,” according to the documents.
Despot, who was Queen’s girlfriend and who lived with him, went missing in April 2018, about a month after Holsonbake. She was reported missing a day after she and Queen attended a court hearing related to firearm charges.
Vandecasteele told police he believed Despot was “disposed of” because she knew what had taken place in Vandecasteele’s garage. Queen has denied any involvement in her disappearance.
District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said her office charged Despot because “there is no known physical evidence that definitively confirms her possible death,” and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.
Vandecasteele is charged with kidnapping, conspiracy and manufacturing an assault weapon. A court date has not yet been scheduled for him and he is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
It’s alleged Vandecasteele, Holsonbake and Queen were involved in illegally manufacturing firearms, including AR-15s. Vandecasteele said Holsonbake also sold drugs, and said both Holsonbake and Queen hung out with members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, the filings say.
“Vandecasteele stated that he did not know if the Hells Angels had anything to do with Holsonbake’s disappearance and that he did not attempt to associate with them himself,” an investigator wrote in the documents.
Several people told investigators Holsonbake was dealing a large amount of cocaine, the court filings say, and a couple witnesses surmised he was killed over drugs and that there was “cartel-type involvement.”
After Holsonbake disappeared, Despot seemed “freaked out” by what had happened at Vandecasteele’s garage that night, Vandecasteele told police. He said everyone — including Queen — believed Despot was a “snitch” who was cooperating with law enforcement in connection with a December 2017 case where she and Queen had been arrested on firearm charges.
“Vandecasteele stated (Despot) started falling apart mentally and Queen probably thought she could not be trusted,” an investigator wrote.
Vandecasteele believed Queen “made her disappear,” according to the documents.
Investigators interviewed a number of other people who have allegedly been threatened or kidnapped by Queen or who know about his alleged criminal activities. Their names, as well as Holsonbake’s name, are redacted from the documents, but it’s clear in some instances when Holsonbake is being referred to due to previously released information.
While interviewing one person who said he was afraid of Queen, detectives asked if he had heard Queen referred to as the “boogeyman of Bakersfield.” The man confirmed Queen had been referred to as that. Others documents referred to him as “scary” and someone not to cross.
Queen has been in custody since his arrest last summer on numerous gun charges, among other alleged crimes. He ran from police who went to question him at his workplace and he fled into the Kern River, where he tried to provoke officers into shooting him, according to documents.
He was eventually taken into custody and is currently held without bail.
Holsonbake, Despot and a third person, James Kulstad, became known as the Bakersfield 3 because they ran in the same circles and were either killed or went missing within months of each other in 2018.
Kulstad was shot dead in April 2018. No arrests have been made in his killing.
Detectives said in the documents no evidence has been found linking Kulstad’s death to the killing of Holsonbake and the disappearance of Despot.