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Third Suspect Arrested In 2011 Beaumont Cold Case Murder

BEAUMONT ( — San Bernardino County sheriff's officials Friday announced the arrest of a third suspect in the 2011 cold case murder of a 44-year-old Rancho Cucamonga woman.

Virginia Backlund, 24, of Beaumont, was arrested Thursday for the torture and murder of Christine Kunstmann following an interview with detectives.

Officials have also arrested fellow Beaumont residents Deserae Lenore James, 24, and 37- year-old Michael Angelo Perez in her murder.

Kunstmann was last seen by her family on May 29, 2011 and reported missing on June 16.

"Kunstmann moved often, but frequently visited friends in the Beaumont area. Kunstmann spoke regularly with family and it was unlike her to go without family contact for more than a few days," officials said.

Her body was discovered in a shallow grave on Mile High Ranch Road in Yucaipa on July 15, 2011. The circumstances surrounding her death were not released.

The hunt for Kunstmann's killers went cold following an initial investigation. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Cold Case Homicide Detail picked up the case in November 2014 which led to the identification of Perez, Backlund and James as suspects.

Perez and James were arrested on Jan. 6 and pleaded not guilty Friday.

Backlund was scheduled to make her first court appearance Monday morning.


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