Bakersfield, CA (KGET) — A pickup truck followed Desiree Thompson while walking alone at night in California City.
Thompson had gone through a rough patch, but earlier that morning, a estranged husband allegedly assaulted her and threatened her with a shotgun, and fled before police arrived.
She talked to a friend who was afraid of her life.
That night, Thompson walked to his friend’s house and talked for a few hours. She called her mother around 8:30 pm and went home.
The pick-up was slow when it came with him, and the driver asked if she would have a drink with him.
After a turbulent 24 hours, Thompson may have appreciated the friendly offer. Thinking about her beer and making her new friends may have appealed to her.
Her thoughts at the time are never known, but authorities believe she got on the pickup.
According to court documents, they suspect that driver Jose William Lara killed her and buried her in the backyard of a house he rented in 20300 blocks on 86th Avenue.
Ten years after Thompson’s disappearance, the two men reported that Lara had confessed to them that she had killed a woman who matched her description.
Last month, a human corpse was dug up in Lara’s former home. It has not been clearly identified yet, but is believed to belong to Thompson.
Lara has admitted that she has not pleaded guilty to the murder and will be detained without bail and will return to court next month.
Lost without leads
When Thompson disappeared, her husband, Edward Gibson III, became a person of interest based on the violent interactions she allegedly had with him.
Gibson has left town and court documents released earlier this month, indicating that authorities were unable to find him.
Thompson’s disappearance was suspicious, but there was no body or other evidence to support her death. It must have been out of her personality, but she may have left her old life behind and decided to start anew somewhere new.
Her name was entered in the Missing Persons database. Her cheek swabs were collected from her family to create her DNA profile.
Her loved ones wondered where she was and what happened to her.
Police had previously told 17News that lack of resources and layoffs delayed the investigation.
Witnesses come out in front
A social media post celebrating the 10th anniversary of Thompson’s disappearance made the man weep.
Among the many edited in court documents on the case, the man in his name felt guilty. A few years ago, an acquaintance confessed that he had killed a woman, and he was silent.
He decided it was finally time to move forward.
A man and his father, who were separately interviewed by California police, shared the following story:
A few years ago, he and his father met Lara in a church, and the man spoke to the police. They became friends and played pool and soccer.
Lara was married, but his wife died of cancer.
One Sunday, Lara and the man took a break, playing soccer and drinking beer. She said Lara, who seemed drunk, began to tell a disturbing story.
Lara said she attended the “Diablo Party” in California City many years ago. She was all dressed in black and had horns and a mohawk hairstyle.
Several men “contempted” him at the party, the man said Lara told him.
Furious Lara went home, but returned to pick-up, the man told police. He wanted revenge.
He saw them walking down the street, but according to the explanation given by the man, they split and Lara approached one of them.
Lara noticed that the person was not a party participant, but a “black or semi-black woman.” It didn’t matter.
He invited the woman home to drink, and she agreed and boarded his truck.
Upon returning home, Lara told the woman to drink beer from the small refrigerator in her bedroom. As she entered her, Lara pushed her head into her fridge and stabbed her repeatedly, the man said.
He told police that Lara had buried the woman in her backyard and covered the area with tarpaulins and plywood, which Lara later claimed to have dug up her body and moved it to the desert.
Lara showed no regrets, the man said, and he seemed to be proud of the murder.
A few months before sharing this horrifying story, the man said he remembered Lara coming to her parents’ house with a terrible cut on his hand. His parents took him to the hospital.
Later, they stopped dating Lara, the man told police.
“When Lara drinks, he talks a lot,” said the man.
Tips from 2012?
He said the man’s father was also interviewed and Lara told him about the murder.
His father wanted him to leave earlier, but he was afraid to be deported.
According to the document, he gave the investigator a typed letter summarizing what Lara had said to him and an envelope containing a picture of Lara’s former home on 86th Avenue.
The man said he had delivered a letter to the California City Police in 2012 stating “Anonymous Tips.” Investigators did not find any document or evidence that received it.
The letter contained the same story that the boy shared. His father also confirmed that Lara had arrived at his house with a bad cut and claimed to have fought a man at a Diablo party.
They took Lara to the hospital, and Lara gave the hospital staff another name and said she didn’t know who cut him, the father said. He was not notified to the police.
A few weeks later, Lara told her father about killing the woman, who said in writing that Lara pointed to the part of the bedroom where she stabbed the woman.
Lara told the police that she had used a machete and burned her and her clothes in a barrel in the backyard.
The father said he had a nightmare about what Lara had told him. Sometimes he leaves the bedroom and cries.
Crime scene 10 years ago
Police issued an investigation warrant at their home on 86th Avenue on March 25. After that, Lara moved and the current residents cooperated.
According to the materials, human bones were found at the location provided by the informant, and bones, teeth, hair, clothing, shoes, etc. were recovered.
The coroner’s office is working to identify the bodies, but authorities said they believed they belonged to Thompson.
Reportedly, some of the laminated flooring in the master bedroom was removed and tested positive for blood in areas of concrete floors and drywall. A sample of cotton swabs and part of the drywall were collected and reserved as evidence.
Meanwhile, FBI agents watched at Lara’s apartment in 8000 blocks in California City Boulevard, watching him leave with a little dog.
Fearing Lara’s escape, the agent notified the command post, investigators detained him at the gas station, and Lara asked the dog to return to the apartment.
According to the document, police found a 24-inch machete in the apartment and seized a beaded bracelet and six cell phones.
Interview with suspect
Lara was taken to the interview room and said she had left the house on 86th Avenue within a year of her wife’s death in January 2011.
Lara told police that she had a pool table at home and her church friends were coming and playing. He mentioned one of the informants.
Lara was asked about her hand injury and told investigators how the Diablo party and one of the men he fought attacked him with a knife. Lara said he was angry and spent the night at his friend’s house after the fight. He didn’t, he said, knows the name of his friend.
The investigator asked about his temperament. When he got angry, he took a walk to cool down, he said. He said his anger is the reason he no longer has many friends.
The question eventually came to the reason why he was there: the detective told him he believed he had killed someone.
Lara denied it.
They asked what was in his backyard. He said he put the plant there.
“The investigator told Lara that he knew he had cut his hand when he stabbed the woman and found her left in the backyard. Lara continued to deny everything and knew nothing. I said no, “the report said.
“Lara said,’You have what you have, bring it,’ the report says.