New developments in SF officer's murder

June 3, 2008 7:30:39 PM PDT
There is a major break in a high profile murder of a San Francisco undercover cop 20 years ago. Some suspected it was professional hit, perhaps by a bad cop, but all the leads went dry ? until now.

"We don't have a motive. We have no murder weapon," said the Walnut Creek investigator of the case in 1988 when San Francisco vice cop Lester Garnier was shot to death, execution style, in his Corvette.

But on Tuesday, police announced a break in the case. They identified a fingerprint on the Corvette which they kept as evidence.

"New technology has resulted in the fingerprint identified as belonging to Catherine Kuntz. Kuntz is currently in custody at a Florida state prison in Okala, Florida on an unrelated charge," says Lieutenant Tim Schultz.

Kuntz was born in Scotland and has an arrest record for drugs and was acquitted of a different murder 17 years ago. She lived in the East Bay during the late 1980's when officer Garnier was killed.

On July 10th 1988, Garnier was having Sunday night dinner with his parents at their Concord home. His father later told police that his son left abruptly after receiving two phone calls, at least one of them from a woman. He then drove to a Walnut Creek parking lot where he was shot at close range while sitting in his car.

Back then, Frank Jordan was the San Francisco Police Chief. He says "some witnesses there heard the noise and looked out and saw at least one and possibly two women leaving the parking lot."

Police say Kuntz was one of them.

"Investigators are confident she was at the homicide scene and investigators are confident she was involved. We are calling her a suspect," says Lieutenant Tim Schultz.

Walnut Creek police believe Garnier had been set up and killed by someone he trusted, perhaps a rogue cop, or someone who worked with him in vice.

Garnier was shot with an AMT-380, a backup gun for some officers. A dozen San Francisco officers came under scrutiny, but ballistics tests on their guns were negative.

Still, the theories continued for decades, amid bad blood between the two police departments.

"Maybe some police officers in San Francisco might have been involved or maybe Lester Granier might be involved. There might be some possible cover up on our side," says Jordan.

Police have talked to Kuntz but wont say what she told them or if she's cleared the officers who were under suspicion. Investigators now want the public's help to close a few more leads.

They are asking up a toll free number, they are also a $250,000 reward for information. They say they are hoping that possible leads they might get from the public could help them finally close this case.

If you have any information regarding this case please call: 1-866-311-3922


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