The Bakersfield 3: Disappearances of Micah Holsonbake, Baylee Despot, and murder of James Kulstad

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It’s a haunting mystery. One that seems to grow more complex and dark: the disappearances of Micah Holsonbake and Baylee Despot. In between the two disappearances, a murder in a Bakersfield neighborhood where crime is rare, bringing up the question: Are there three mysteries or just one?

There are many unanswered questions in these three cases, and one of the biggest is can the connections between the three be just coincidence? Until they have answers, three local mothers aren’t giving up.

35-year-old Micah Holsonbake had been missing for a week when 38-year-old James Kulstad was gunned down in a quiet Southwest Bakersfield neighborhood on April 8. James was driving near Sandstone Lane and Mountain Ridge Road when someone fired into his vehicle.

James’ mother Diane Byrne knew that Micah and James were friends, so she reached out to Cheryl Holsonbake, Micah’s mother. 

“I was having a funeral service for my son and wondering whether or not it’s connected,” Diane said.

Then flyers began circulating around town for yet another missing person, 20-year-old Baylee Despot. That happened about one month after Micah disappeared.

Cheryl Holsonbake recognized Baylee and knew Baylee and her missing son, Micah, knew each other. So she reached out to Baylee’s mom. “So then we reached out to Jane said ‘Hey, Jane. I think this is the worst club you’d ever want to be in, but here we are,” said Cheryl.

It may be the club you’d never want to be in, but it’s made each mother stronger. 

“Somebody knows. There are too many people in this group of acquaintances, there are too many people for someone not to know information that could help all of us,” said Cheryl.

The main thing the mothers say they’ve found in the last four months: “Just because you’re in a very nice home in a very nice neighborhood, that does not protect you or your children,” said Cheryl.

It’s a statement Jane and Diane couldn’t agree with more. Baylee grew up near Shiloh Estates in Rosedale, Micah in Rosedale near Polo Grounds, and James’ family in Seven Oaks.

“We work very hard and we want our children in the best schools and we want them to have the things that we didn’t have and we have all our dreams for our families as they grow and have their own children. And then come to find out there’s this criminal element that’s really at the base of a lot of what you’d consider very fine neighborhoods and it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. We are just the same sitting in Rosedale as someone who is sitting you know somewhere in Southeast Bakersfield or East Bakersfield or Oildale,” said Cheryl.

Together, the mothers go through various emotions together.

“It’s constantly there. Where is she? Whats happening to her? Is she trying to contact me? Does somebody have her? said Jane Parrent, Baylee’s mother.

“How dare anyone take my family away from me. How dare they. What makes you more valuable than my son?” said Cheryl.

“I know where my son is. He’s cremated, but I don’t know where his friends are,” said Diane. 

Jane and Cheryl need to know what happened, even if it means learning their children are buried in shallow graves. “I will drive straight from here, I will go there and I will dig him up with my own hands,” said Cheryl.

“I’m never gonna stop hanging flyers because that’s the only thing I know how to do to find her. If I had a place to go look for her i’d go look for her, but I don’t have a place to go look for her. The day she disappeared everything stopped,” said Jane.

Law enforcement is aware of the social connections between Micah, James, and Baylee but say it’s still unknown if the three cases are connected. 

“I’m not giving up because it’s not only looking for Baylee it’s looking for Micah, it’s looking for who killed James. We’re all looking for something,” said Jane.

If you have any information on the murder of James Kulstad or the disappearance of Micah Holsonbake, call BPD at 327-7111.

If you know the whereabouts of Baylee Despot call KCSO at 861-3110.You can always remain anonymous by calling secret witness at 322-4040. The mothers have also set up an email account for anyone who’d like to contact them, the account is kerncountyjustice@gmail.com  

The mothers have also created a Facebook page called the Bakersfield 3

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