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3rd arrest made in Yucaipa cold case murder

Three people from Beaumont have been arrested on accusations of murdering a Rancho Cucamonga woman over three years ago.

News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 first told you about the death of 44-year-old Christine Kunstmann back in July of 2011. Her body was found in Oak Glen — buried in a shallow grave on Mile High Ranch Road. The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office identified Kunstmann on July 22, 2011.

After numerous interviews with witnesses and the victim’s family, the case went cold.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case on November 1, 2014. Detectives with the Cold Case Homicide Detail interviewed several witnesses which resulted in evidence identifying two suspects from Beaumont.

On Tuesday, January 6, detectives interviewed 37-year-old Michael Angelo Perez and 24-year-old Deserae Lenore James. After the interview, they were both arrested and charged with the torture and murder of Kunstmann. They were booked into the West Valley Detention Center.

Both suspects were expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon in San Bernardino Superior Court.

On Thursday, January 8, investigators interviewed a third suspect, 24-year-old Virginia Marie Backlund of Beaumont. Backlund was also booked at the West Valley Detention Center for the torture and murder of Christine Kunstmann.

Backlund is expected to be arraigned on Monday, January 12 in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The investigation into Kunstmann’s murder continues. Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to contact Detectives Jerry Davenport or Rob Trostle at 909-387-3589.

Callers who want to remain anonymous can call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-782-7463 or leave information at

News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 will keep you updated on any future developments from court.

KESQ News Team


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