NewsCovering Kern County


Kern Secret Witness Program receives tip in Wooner case, tip individual awarded $1,000

Posted at 7:44 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 22:45:40-04

The Kern Secret Witness program has a 24-hour hotline which allows individuals to share anonymous information that may help law enforcement solve cases.

One of the most recent cases involving secret witness was for missing McFarland city manager, John Wooner.

“[It helps] when information does come in to help us solve a crime and make an arrest involving homicide and in Mr. Wooner’s case they were able to locate the vehicle,” said Sgt. Nathan McCauley, public information officer for Bakersfield Police Department.

Wooner's city vehicle was found submerged in the Kern River, on July 28th and his body inside.

Sgt. McCauley adds that there are multiple factors to determine the award amount which can range from $1,000 to $5,000.

“We look at ‘ok what happened here’ what information did they provide, was this something that could have been harmful to the person involved here and what risk did they put this out here,” McCauley said.

McCauley says that the anonymous individual who reported Wooner’s submerged car was paid $1,000 for their information and wants to encourage others to follow suit with any helpful tips.

When 23ABC asked McCauley how often cases are solved due to the Kern witness program, he had the following to say.

“Not as often as we like,” McCauley said. “I think this is something that comes up a lot in cold cases and homicides. We also see a lot throughout the year and people remind the community that there are funds available for Kern Witness to help solve these cases.”

According to BPD, Wooner’s death was related to a crash, but they are still waiting for the coroner to determine if the death happened as his vehicle went into the river or after his vehicle hit the water.

Kern Secret Witness wants to encourage anyone with information to please call their hotline at 661-322-4040.