Homicide suspect from March 2018, Camano Island Homicide found deceased in California

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***Media Release***

A “John Doe” located in the Feather River in Yuba City California has been positively identified via DNA as Jacob GONZALES, the suspect in the murder of 26 year old Katherine Cunningham whose body was found March 3, 2018, on Camano Island Washington.

Katherine was found on the property of the rural Camano Island home she shared with the suspect.  The subsequent investigation revealed that Katherine had been murdered on February 14th or 15th.  Katherine’s vehicle was found by the California Highway Patrol on February 16th disabled and abandoned on Interstate 5 near Yreka California.  On February 19th the vehicle was towed as an abandoned vehicle by the California Highway patrol and placed in impound (the murder had not been discovered yet).

After Katherine was discovered, an attempt to locate was put out on her missing vehicle and the California Highway Patrol notified the Island County Sheriff’s Office that they had the vehicle.  Deputies from the Island County Sheriff’s Office recovered the vehicle from California and towed it back to Washington where Detectives obtained a search warrant.

The search warrant located a “Samurai” sword wrapped in a blanket that appeared to match the type of weapon that was used to inflict the injuries on Katherine.  Testing found Katherine’s DNA on the blade and GONZALES DNA on the handle.

On April 7th, 2018, the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a body that had been located in the river in Yuba City California.  With no identification the body was classified as a “John Doe” and Sutter County requested the public’s help with identification by posting photographs of “John Doe’s” tattoos.

In November of 2018 tips regarding the tattoos led detectives to believe that “John Doe” was .  Samples were sent to a DNA lab in California for positive identification, that identification was made on April 16, 2019.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force, the US Marshals Office, the California Highway Patrol, the Redding Police Department, the Los Baños Police Department, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office and all of the other agencies and citizens that provided information that helped in this investigation.   We would also like to thank Katherine’s family for their patience and their tireless efforts to keep Katherine in the public’s thoughts.

Questions regarding the homicide investigation should be directed to the Island County Sheriff’s Office, questions regarding the recovery of GONZALES body should be directed to the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office.

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