Looking at the data for Kern homicides year after year, a majority of the cases have one thing in common: a known motive. Loved ones and investigators often can pinpoint a reason for the violence, the victim was in a volatile relationship, in a gang or dealing drugs, or the unfortunate target of a robbery gone wrong.
So what happens when police have a victim who appeared to have no enemies and no reason to be in danger? We take a look at one case where the reason why the victim was murdered is even more mysterious than the identity of the suspect.
The facts of this case, in the words of the victim’s loved ones, are simply baffling. It’s the type of case that should have Bakersfield residents concerned for their safety. By all accounts, 49-year-old Corey Powers was a hard-working family man living in a safe neighborhood, on the same street as several of law enforcement officers. No one can rationalize how this happened to Corey or why.
Tuesday, July 3 started off promising, the beginning of a long holiday weekend. “He was excited because it was his first fourth of July to be off in 13 years,“ said Corey’s wife, Oriana Torpen.
But around 1 pm, after leaving the Stockdale Hwy Target where he was a supervisor, Corey’s car broke down. “He was just mad because he’d just put a new battery and alternator in the car like two days before that,“ said Corey’s step-daughter, Deanna Torpen.
Luckily, he was just down the street from his step-daughters home where he and his wife were staying as they waited to move into a new place of their own. Corey’s coworker picked him up and brought him to get oil, taking a final photo of him smiling in the passenger’s seat. After that, Corey went back to the house, changed clothes, and walked back to his broken down vehicle.
Around 3 p.m., Corey’s step-daughter passed him on her way back to her house. “He came up to the window and I asked him if he wanted me to get a tow, if he wanted to come home, and he said no I just want to stay right here and try to fix the car,“ said Deanna.
Deanna went home to grab her AAA card and pick up her daughter. Not even 15 minutes went by before she returned to a very different scene. Off a patch of dirt on just outside his southwest neighborhood, near the intersection of Buena Vista and Harris Roads, Corey had been shot to death while working on his car.
Clues are few and far between, but witnesses told police a silver SUV was in that area about the time of the shooting.
“My goal is to find out who did this, because he didn’t deserve it. He didn’t have enemies,“ said Corey’s wife, Oriana.
“We only saw it on the news one time. One time for like two seconds. Never saw it again. He’s never been mentioned,“ said his step-daughter, Deanna.
Corey’s loved ones feel he’s been forgotten, and they say the hardest thing about losing him is not understanding why anyone would kill the who led such a quiet normal life.
“I am totally baffled. I don’t have any idea…I never caught Corey hiding things from me. I thought we shared absolutely everything. And for him to just show up murdered…I can’t figure out why,“ said Corey’s uncle, Bruce Powers.
“I want an answer. I really do. It’s hard for me to explain because I can’t understand. I can’t. I’m going to counseling and trying to figure this out myself, because if I knew there was someone he was mad at, or someone that I thought may have something to do with this, I guarantee you I would tell you. I don’t care who it is, I would tell you, because I want justice,“ said Oriana.
Law enforcement agrees, with a victim like Corey, shot in the middle of the day in a quiet area, motive isn’t clear. Detectives say they’re looking at every lead, including talk of the seemingly targeted murder having been meant for someone else.
Family says whatever the reason is, no matter how difficult to learn, they need to know.
Corey’s uncle says the murder has completely changed how he looks at the world. “We don’t know if he was shot from the street, we don’t know if he was shot close up, we don’t know if it was a long range. We have no answers whatsoever. If someone can do that to a guy working on his car, what’s gonna stop someone from doing that to my when I walk to the mailbox?“
If you have any information on Corey’s case, you’re asked to call Bakersfield Police at 327-7111, or you can remain anonymous by calling Secret Witness at 322-4040.