CAMANO ISLAND, Wash. - The suspect in the beheading of 26-year-old Katherine Cunningham on Camano Island last March has been found dead in California, Island County sheriff’s deputies announced Tuesday.
Deputies said a “John Doe” located in the Feather River in Yuba City, California, was positively identified through DNA as Jacob Gonzalez.
Gonzalez had been charged with domestic violence murder in the second degree while armed with a deadly weapon and police had issued a $1 million nationwide warrant for him.
The decapitated body of Cunningham was found near a hillside bunker on the south end of Camano Island in the woods off Tamarack Lane on March 3, 2018.
Deputies said their investigation revealed that Cunningham had been murdered Feb. 14 or Feb. 15.
Cunningham’s car was found by the California Highway Patrol on Feb. 16 abandoned near Yreka, California, and was placed in impound Feb. 19 – before Island County deputies knew of the murder.
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After discovering the murder, deputies recovered Cunningham’s vehicle and towed it back to Washington, where detectives obtained a search warrant.
“The search warrant located a samurai sword wrapped in a blanket that appeared to match the type of weapon that was used to inflict the injuries on Katherine. Testing found Katherine’s DNA on the blade and Gonzales' DNA on the handle,” deputies said in a news release.
On April 7, 2018, the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a body that had been located in the river in Yuba City.
Sutter County deputies classified the body as a John Doe since there was no identification and shared photographs of John Doe’s tattoos to the public.
“In November of 2018 tips regarding the tattoos led detectives to believe that 'John Doe' was Jacob Gonzales. Samples were sent to a DNA lab in California for positive identification, that identification was made on April 16, 2019,” Island County deputies said.
Officials said questions regarding the homicide investigation should be directed to the Island County Sheriff’s Office and questions regarding the recovery of Gonzales’ body should be directed to the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office.
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