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A look back at the Bakersfield 3 as the trial for Matthew Queen is set to begin

Posted at 8:15 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 17:52:10-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — UPDATE: The trial for Matthew Queen is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Queen is accused of multiple felonies, including the torture and killing of Micah Holsonbake, one of the members of what has come to be known as the Bakersfield 3.

The spring of 2018 was a painful time for the families of Jason Kulstad, Micah Holsonbake, and Baylee Despot. These three young adults, who all ran the same circle, each showing up missing or killed.

on March 23, 2018, Holsonbake was reported missing. A week later, Kulstad was shot and killed in his vehicle in Southwest Bakersfield. Then, a few weeks later on April 25, 2018, Despot was reported missing.

There was slow progress in each investigation as the unsolved cases came to be known as the Bakersfield 3.

Diane Byrne, Jane Parrent, and Cheryl Holsonbake, the mothers of the Bakersfield 3, have never stopped searching for answers.

In August of 2018, the first break in Micah’s disappearance came when, much to the dismay of loved ones, a severed arm was discovered in the Kern River near Hart Park. That December, Bakersfield Police announced Holsonbake’s case was now a homicide. What happened to Micah would continue to be mystery that slowly unraveled. In August of 2021, his skull would be located in river east of the Pyles Boys Camp.

Over the years, the mothers of the Bakersfield 3 continued to bring attention to these cases, starting the nonprofit Bakersfield 3 Charity and donating $17,000 to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office for a sonar search system.

Then, in 2019, a new name entered the mix: Matthew Queen, the alleged former boyfriend of missing Despot.

In July of 2019, following a 2- hour standoff, Queen was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and weapons charges.

A year later in May of 2020, the Kern County District Attorney’s office announced that following a two-year long investigation, Queen would be charged in the torture and death of Holsonbake.

Matters became more complicated when, during that same announcement, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer revealed that Despot, while still missing, was also charged in Holsonbake’s death.

In court documents, witnesses told police that Holsonbake had become connected to Queen through illegal weapons manufacturing and that Holsonbake had become increasingly paranoid and afraid of Queen.

Police believed Queen and Despot kidnapped, restrained, and tortured Holsonbake before killing him.

A third man, Matthew Vandecasteele, was also charged in the case. It is believed that Vandecasteele’s garage was the location of Holsonbake’s death, according to court documents. Vandecasteele agreed to take a plea in exchange for his testimony in Queen’s trial.

Queen's trial is set to begin now on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.