Hopes of solving 1988 cop killing in WC get deported

Or rather, the woman considered to be the prime suspect in the 1988 slaying of an off-duty San Francisco police officer is being sent back to her native Scotland.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that Catherine Kuntz, a former prostitute who was living in Concord at the time of Officer Lester Garnier’s July 1988 death was being deported “because she had been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.”

Three years after Garnier, 30, was found slumped over the wheel of his Corvette, in the parking lot of the mall that houses Ross and Sunrise Bistro, Kuntz moved to Florida. She was later accused of attempting to murder her husband for his life insurance money–but she was acquitted after her husband testified in her defense.

In the past year, she had been in prison in Florida, where, according to the Chronicle, she was first convicted of cocaine possession and then failed a drug test.

She became a suspect in 2002, when a partial fingerprint, “that had been lifted from the Corvette was determined to belong to Kuntz, but that discovery presented investigators with a whole set of new questions,” the Chronicle says.

“Kuntz, the ex-wife of a Navy petty officer, had a history of drug abuse and prostitution arrests. She had never been arrested in San Francisco, however,
and police have never been able to establish that she and Garnier were acquainted.

At the time of his death Garnier lived in Concord with his parents. He joined the San Francisco police department in 1980 and was working with the vice squad when he was killed.

The case has been filled with intrigue and mystery ever since Garnier was found dead, shot twice at close range with a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol, possibly by his own gun. But that murder weapon has never been found.

The case also caused friction between Walnut Creek and San Francisco police, because Walnut Creek detectives guarded information about their investigation, out of possible concern that other San Francisco officers had something to do with Garnier’s killing.

Walnut Creek police have submitted their findings about Kuntz and other information to the District Attorney’s Office several times for review. But prosecutors said there has not yet been enough evidence to bring Kuntz to trial.

Walnut Creek detectives publicly announced Kuntz’s possible connection to the case in June. They also had received an okay from Kuntz to be interviewed, but she was deported in December, before they got the chance to talk to her.

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