Man accused of beheading woman with samurai sword in Washington state may be hiding in California, police say

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Thursday, July 5, 2018
Man accused of beheading woman with a samurai sword may be hiding in Merced Co, authorities say
Officials are searching the North Valley for a suspect, charged in the murder of a valley native in Washington State this past February.

FRESNO, Calif. -- Officials are searching Central California for a 33-year-old man suspected of decapitating his girlfriend in Washington state.

Sheriff's deputies say Jacob Gonzales is the prime suspect in connection to the February beheading of his girlfriend Katherine Cunningham, who is from Atwater.

Authorities found Gonzales' DNA on a samurai sword that they believe he used to kill Cunningham. Court filings show that after killing the victim, Gonzales stole her Honda Civic and fled the state. The car was later found abandoned in Yreka with the bloody samurai sword in the back.

Island County Prosecutor Gregory Banks said the samurai sword was found in the vehicle and sent for testing at a lab.

"Those lab results indicate that Ms. Cunningham's blood was on the blade of the sword, and Mr. Gonzales' DNA was on the hilt," he said.

Authorities have been seeking Gonzales since March on a warrant. He was previously charged with five counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of motor vehicle theft.

Officials now believe Gonzales may now be hiding out in Merced County. A $1 million nationwide warrant has been issued for his arrest.