A Merced County man is wanted in connection with the slaying and decapitation of a 26-year-old Los Banos woman, a law enforcement official confirmed Thursday.
The body of Katherine Cunningham was found decapitated Saturday in a remote area around Camano Island, in northwest Washington state. She had been dead at least several days, authorities said.
Her identity was confirmed Thursday afternoon by the Los Banos Police Department. A man identified as a person of interest in the slaying, 34-year-old Jacob Gonzales, also is a Los Banos resident, Los Banos Police Cmdr. Jason Hedden said.
Hedden said Los Banos police are assisting Island County authorities in the investigation.
Gonzales is a 5'9", 150-pound Hispanic male with black hair and hazel eyes, according to the Island County Sheriff's Office in Washington.
An autopsy revealed Cunningham died as a result of "homicidal violence with decapitation," according to the Sheriff's Office.
Gonzales may be headed to the Central Valley, possibly in a silver compact car with an unknown license plate, according to a statement released Thursday by the Sheriff's Office.
Previous reports that Gonzales might be driving a green 1990 Mitsubishi Montero were corrected Thursday after authorities discovered Gonzales had previously sold that vehicle, Brown said.
Detectives discovered a bunker dug into the hillside near Cunningham's body that contained a cache of supplies, ammunition and firearms, according to the release.
"Based on the evidence, it appears that the victim was specifically targeted and this was not a random act," the release states.
Brown said the Sheriff's Office did not want to comment on the nature of the relationship between Cunningham and Gonzales.
Gonzalez should be considered armed and people are being asked not to approach him, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office released a photo of Gonzales that was taken from his Facebook page, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown told the Sun-Star.
Cunningham's family members declined to comment to the Sun-Star.
Anyone with information on Gonzales' whereabouts or about the homicide are being urged to contact local police, Island County Detective Ed Wallace at 360-679-9567 or email email@example.com.