Arrow-right Camera
News >  Washington

Man charged with murder after DNA found on samurai sword

CAMANO ISLAND, Wash. – A 33-year-old man suspected of killing and decapitating his girlfriend in Washington state has been charged with murder after investigators say they found a samurai sword with DNA evidence.

Island County authorities announced the charges on Friday against Jacob Gonzales, who remains at large and is believed to have traveled to California.

Police in early March found the body of 26-year-old Katherine Cunningham on an undeveloped parcel of land near a gun- and ammo-filled bunker on Camano Island, north of Seattle.

Authorities said a car belonging to Cunningham was found in northern California, also in early March.

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.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office said Gonzales is likely in the Merced County area of California.

According to court documents, Cunningham likely died in mid-February. Authorities say she might have been staying in a trailer on the property. Her body was found by a couple looking to buy the property.

Court documents say Gonzales stole Cunningham’s Honda Civic and fled, with the car later found abandoned in Yreka, California.

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email

You have been successfully subscribed!

Top stories in Washington

Students go broke for a day: Poverty simulation helps WSU students understand challenges

About 25 students were thrown in jail, got fired from their jobs, bartered with a pawn shop owner and tried to survive natural disasters Wednesday at the Washington State University Compton Union Building. It was all part of a poverty simulation organized by the WSU Center for Civic Engagement to help students better understand the everyday challenges of being poor.