BEAUMONT- After reopening the homicide case involving the death of Christine Jo Kuntsmann in November, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested two suspects believed responsible for her death.
Christine Jo Kuntsmann, 44 disappeared from her home in Rancho Cucamonga in May of 2011. According to her family, Kuntsmann was unlikely to go for more than a few days without checking with relatives and no one had heard from her in weeks. On June 16, 2011, her family filed a missing person’s report.
The following July, a white female adult was found in a shallow grave on Mile High Ranch Rd., an unincorporated area of Yucaipa. The San Bernardino County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Detail positively identified the body as that of Kunstmann and began an investigation. Deputies interviewed numerous family and witnesses, following the murder. It was discovered that Kunstmann moved and frequently visited friends in the Beaumont area.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Cold Case Homicide Detail decided to take a harder look at the crime and reopened the case on November 1, 2014. The detectives were able to identify, locate and interviewed several witnesses and were soon closer to an arrest. The evidence they uncovered pointed to Michael Angelo Perez, 37, and Deserae James, 24, both of Beaumont as suspects in the death of the victim.
Cold Case Detectives interviewed Perez and James on January 6, 2015. At the conclusion of the interview, detectives felt confident that they had discovered the suspects for the murder. Perez and James were arrested and booked into the West Valley Detention Center and charged with torture and murder.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is urged to contact Detectives Jerry Davenport or Rob Trostle at (909) 387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip website at www.wetip.com.
UPDATE – Police arrested a third suspect, 24-year-old Virginia Marie Backlund in connection with Kuntsmann’s homicide.