Above: File photo of Michael Joseph Vance | Fontana PD
Fontana police have announced the identification of, and charges against, the primary suspect in the 1990 cold case murder of John Carl Burkhardt.
On Sunday, March 25, 1990, Burkhardt was found dead inside his Mango Avenue home by a friend who’d come to check on him after Burkhardt hadn’t shown up for breakfast. Police say the place had been ransacked and that Burkhardt had been stabbed multiple times. He was 71 at the time of his death.
The case went cold for several years until 2003, when a person came forward and claimed to have witnessed the murder. The individual identified the suspect as Michael Joseph Vance, who would have been 23 in 1990, and said that they had been with Vance when he had arrived at Burkhardt’s home to pick up a paycheck.
The individual said Vance and Burkhardt went inside and an argument ensued over how much money was owed, which escalated to Vance allegedly stabbing Burkhardt to death with a knife from the kitchen. He then allegedly took several items from the home before leaving.
Despite Vance reportedly denying knowing the victim, working for him, or having been at the home, investigators found Vance’s fingerprints on the murder weapon, police said.
In September of 2021, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office filed formal murder charges against Vance, who is currently incarcerated for an unrelated crime.
Vance has reportedly accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and will serve out his new sentence alongside his current one, police said.