Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Kathy Bonderson

Real Name: Kathryn Jean Bonderson
Nicknames: Kathy
Location: New Rockford, North Dakota
Date: October 25, 1987


Details: At around 2am on October 25, 1987, thirty-five-year-old nurse Kathy Bonderson had an argument with her husband, Robert, about their teenage son, Jamie, who had not come home. Robert had done a cursory search for him, but was unsuccessful. Kathy was angry because she was late for work at the convalescent hospital. She went out to search for Jamie.
A few minutes later at 2:30am, Jamie noticed Kathy's car drive by him while he was parked with his girlfriend near a bridge. He ducked out of sight so that she would not notice him. He saw another vehicle following it; this was believed to be the last time she was seen alive.
One hour later, Kathy's 1974 Ford Torino was found engulfed in flames on a gravel road north of town near a railroad crossing; her body was inside on the front passenger side. After firefighters put out the fire, her body was removed and an investigation into the crash began.
Sheriff Ed Allmaras believed that the fire started from the front of the car. He believed that Kathy, for some unknown reason, swerved to the right as she approached the railroad crossing and went over the exposed tracks. Then the car went into the ditch and caught fire, with her being thrown into the passenger side.
Allmaras believed that Kathy had been the victim of a tragic accident, but several clues found at the scene suggested otherwise, and state highway patrolman William Byram believed that something was odd about the crash. He learned that her car keys were found virtually undamaged on the floorboard, even though the interior had melted.
Byram found no tire tracks that showed that Kathy had veered off the side of the road. He believed that the marks on the tracks that Allmaras thought were from her car were actually from the fire trucks.
The next day, Byram and fire marshal Curt Fogel inspected Kathy's car. They noticed that it was totally burned, but found no structural damage from the impact. They also found that there was still twelve gallons of gasoline in the tank. There was also no damage to the fuel line. Fogel soon concluded that the fire had started in several different areas. He believed that it was not an accident, but instead an intentional act.
Three weeks later, Byram requested that Kathy's body be exhumed for a new autopsy. At first, Allmaras objected, but Byram threatened to get a court order, so Allmaras let her body be exhumed. The autopsy suggested that she was killed before the fire was ignited, because there was no carbon monoxide in her lungs.
Tests conducted on Kathy's clothes and her car's carpeting revealed that each contained traces of gasoline, supporting the theory of arson. Furthermore, several days after the incident, a gasoline can was found near the scene.
However, Allmaras, refused to change the status on the case from "accident" to "homicide", claiming that there was no evidence that it was a murder. Byram, however, believed that Kathy's death was not an accident, based on the facts in the case and the evidence found at the scene. He believes that somebody murdered her and then set her body on fire to make it look like an accident. However, no suspects in her death have ever been publicly identified and the case remains open.
Suspects: None mentioned at the time of the broadcast
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 10, 1991 episode.

Robert Bonderson

Results: Solved. In November 2005, cold case investigators reopened the case and a new autopsy performed proved that Kathy had definitely been murdered. It was discovered that there were injuries to her neck and throat that were not consistent with the accident. It is believed that these injuries were the cause of her death.
In February 2006, authorities discovered that Robert was living in Thermopolis, Wyoming. After talking to the police, he vanished, leaving behind his bank and credit cards. In April 2006, authorities discovered that he had taken his own life in a remote cabin in the Montana mountains. Police later concluded that had he been alive, he would have been arrested for Kathy's murder, and that he is definitely responsible for her death.
During the investigations over the years, it was discovered that Robert had started dating another woman a few months prior to Kathy's death. Also, he had taken a $50,000 life insurance policy out on her just two months before. It was also discovered that Jamie, who had seen her car driving by him on the night of her death, had stated that Robert was the one driving it. His girlfriend confirmed this, as she had written about it in her diary. Investigators now believe that Kathy was killed at her home and placed in her car. They believe that Robert drove her to the railroad crossing and set her car on fire. The case is now considered closed.
Sheriff Ed Allmaras passed away in 1997.