Details of Disappearance Despot was last seen in Bakersfield, California on April 25, 2018. She was in the front yard at the residence she shared with her boyfriend, Matthew Queen, at the time. She has never been heard from again. Prior to her disappearance, her life had been troubled.
After her divorce in the spring of 2017, Despot began hanging out with new friends and using drugs. She was arrested that summer for drunk and disorderly conduct, but the charge was dismissed. In August 2017, she was drugged and sexually assaulted at an apartment complex, and in December, she was arrested on felony weapons charges. She pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to three years' probation. Afterwards, she moved in with Queen. She disappeared months later.
In late March 2018, one of Despot's acquaintances, Micah Blaine Holsonbake, disappeared from Bakersfield. On April 8, another Bakersfield resident, James Kulstad, was shot to death in his mother's car. Despot went missing two weeks after Kulstad's murder. In December 2018, one of Holsonbake's arms was found in a duffel bag at Hart Park in the Kern River. The rest of his body has never been located.
The two men knew each other and Kulstad had helped Holsonbake move just weeks before Holsonbake's disappearance, and both men were friends with Despot. Her disappearance and the two men's murders were associated in the media; Despot, Holsonbake and Kulstad were referred to as "the Bakersfield Three."
In May 2020, Despot and Queen were charged with murder, torture and conspiracy to commit murder; the victim in the case was Holsonbake. Queen's whereabouts are known and he was already in jail on unrelated kidnapping and weapons charges when he was charged in Holsonbake's death. Another man, Matthew Tyler Vandecasteele, was charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder in the case.
According to authorities, Despot, Queen and Holsonbake had all initially conspired to commit an unspecified crime together, and then, for unspecified reasons, Despot and Queen decided to murder Holsonbake. They asked Vandecasteele if they could borrow his garage in southwest Bakersfield to hold Holsonbake captive and extract information from him. The pair arrived at the garage with Holsonbake and zip-tied his hands, and Despot went inside Vandecasteele's house for a knife. Shortly thereafter, Queen and Vandecasteele researched how to dissolve a human body.
Photos of Holsonbake, Queen and Vandecasteele are posted with this case summary. Queen and Vandecasteele are awaiting trial in connection with Holsonbake's murder. Investigators do not believe his murder has any connection to Kulstad's death.
Despot's whereabouts remain unknown and the circumstances of her disappearance are still unclear; she may have fled the area after Holsonbake's murder, or may have met with foul play herself. Her mother says she believes Queen had a role in her daughter's disappearance, and that Despot was reportedly pregnant and trying to leave Queen when she went missing.
She remains listed as a missing person, but now has warrants out for her arrest in Holsonbake's death.
- Kern County Sheriff's Office
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 28, 2020; picture and medical conditions added, details of disappearance updated.