Police solve 32-year cold-case killing of California man

May 10, 2022 GMT

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Police say they’ve solved a 32-year-old cold-case killing of a Southern California man, and the suspect is already serving a prison sentence on an unrelated charge.

John Carl Burkhardt, 71, was found stabbed to death at his ransacked Fontana home in March 1990 after he missed a breakfast date with a friend.

Leads went cold until 2003, when a witness told investigators she was in Burkhardt’s home the day he was killed, according to Fontana police.

The unidentified woman said she and Michael Joseph Vance went to visit Burkhardt to collect money he owed to Vance. As the two men argued, Vance grabbed a steak knife from Vance’s kitchen and repeatedly stabbed him, the woman told police.

Thanks to improvements in forensic technology, investigators eventually were able to match fingerprints from the knife to Vance, police said.

Vance denied knowing Burkhardt, but in September 2021 the case was presented to the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office. In April, Vance pleaded to a voluntary manslaughter charge, according to authorities.


Vance, 56, was at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, Calif. for an unrelated crime and will serve his sentence concurrently with his remaining time, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.