Real Name: Lester Boniface Garnier
Location: Walnut Creek, California
Date: July 11, 1988
Details: Early on the morning of July 11, 1988, a groundskeeper noticed a 1984 Corvette parked in a shopping mall parking lot in Walnut Creek, California, an affluent suburb of San Francisco. His attention was drawn to the car's driver, who appeared to be sleeping behind the wheel. However, the man was not asleep; he was dead. The victim was identified as thirty-year-old Lester Garnier. He had been shot twice in the head. Other than a few unidentified fingerprints, little evidence was found at the crime scene.
Lester was an undercover vice cop who lived in nearby Concord and worked for the police in San Francisco. He was dedicated to taking care of his parents but was also known as a ladies' man. He used his charm during his undercover operations, as he often worked to arrest prostitutes in the Mission District by pretending to be a customer. He had worked as an undercover cop for over four years at the time of his murder. When police questioned the prostitutes he arrested, they often spoke highly of him; this led the investigators to believe that these women were not involved in his murder.
However, it was discovered that around the time of his murder, he was investigating a local brothel rumored to be patronized by other officers and civic leaders. Rumors were that Lester was killed by a corrupt cop in the San Francisco police department or by Roger Boas, a mayoral candidate caught having sex with an underage prostitute. Boas pleaded guilty to the charges in the fall of 1988. Lester had been on stakeout duty at one of the houses in the prostitution ring just prior to his death. However, investigations into both of those leads went nowhere.
Authorities retraced Lester's steps on the night of his murder. On July 10, twelve hours before his body was found, he left his Concord home to meet friends in San Francisco. Twenty minutes after leaving home, however, he called his friends from his car phone and canceled their plans. He gave no explanation for the cancellation other than it was "getting late". His whereabouts are unknown from the time of this phone call to 11:30pm when his car was spotted in the parking lot that he was later found in.
Authorities located a witness who was a carpet layer that worked in a building next to the parking lot. The witness heard what he thought was the sound of firecrackers; he was not concerned as it was around the Fourth of July. A few seconds later, he saw two women leaving the area where Lester would be found the next morning. The women entered two separate vehicles and left the parking lot.
Another witness was driving by the parking lot and saw a woman exit Lester's Corvette from the passenger side. The woman walked around to the driver's side of the car, looked inside, and then left. While under hypnosis, the witness helped to make a composite sketch of the woman. When the carpet layer was shown the composite, he believed that it resembled the shorter woman he had seen walking across the parking lot. The women have not been identified, but police are certain they have something to do with his death. Authorities found fingerprints on his car that they believe belong to the killer. A $250,000 reward is being offered for an arrest in the case.
Suspects: Police are looking for two women seen in the vicinity of Lester's Corvette on the night of the murder. Suspect #1 was blond-haired, about 5'6", 110 pounds, and in her late-twenties at the time. Suspect #2 was in her mid-thirties at the time, tall with a slender build. They have yet to be identified.
There are several theories as to why Lester was killed. One theory is that Lester's murder was related to his undercover work. It is possible that he was killed by a prostitute that he had previously arrested. However, most of the prostitutes arrested by him actually spoke fondly of him.
Another theory is that he was killed by a corrupt police officer involved in prostitution. The gun used in the murder was a AMT-380, which is a backup gun that some officers carried. A dozen San Francisco officers were questioned; however, ballistics tests confirmed that none of their guns were used.
Yet another theory is that he was killed by Roger Boas, a mayoral candidate who was caught having sex with an under-aged prostitute. However, none of these theories have been confirmed.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the May 15, 1991 episode.
Results: Unsolved. In June 2008, the shorter woman seen leaving Lester's car was identified as Scottish national Catherine "Scotty" Kuntz; her fingerprints matched those found in his car. She is the prime suspect in the case; police have stated that they believe she was involved in the murder. She was a prostitute and living in Concord at the time of the murder. In 1991, she was arrested in Virginia for conspiracy to commit murder. She allegedly hired two people to kill her husband; fortunately, they were unsuccessful. However, the charges of conspiracy against her were dropped; she later pleaded guilty to assault.
She was released from a Florida prison in late June 2008 where she was held on unrelated charges. She was then deported to her home country of Scotland. Despite the fingerprint match, police do not have enough evidence to file murder charges against Kuntz. They also suspect that at least one other person was involved in the murder.
Sadly, Lester's mother passed away in 1996 and his father passed away in 2002.
- Lester Garnier at Unsolved.com
- Lester Garnier on Walnut Creek Police Department
- Slain cop dreamt of a better life - July 14, 1988
- Slain SF policeman had empire in sight - July 16, 1988
- Blonde woman sought in vice cop slaying case - August 10, 1988
- PGA offering $10,000 reward in cop's killing - September 14, 1988
- New Probe Into 1988 Death Of SF Policeman - May 20, 1998
- A cover-up is still suspected in the unsolved murder of an S.F. cop - February 16, 2003
- New lead in 1988 slaying of S.F. vice officer - June 3, 2008
- California police seek info on woman involved in '91 Norfolk case - June 4, 2008
- Polk woman is suspected in Calif. slaying - June 5, 2008
- Fingerprint may solve mystery of cop's killing - June 8, 2008
- Suspect in S.F. cop's 1988 slaying is deported - February 2, 2009
- Murder of Lester Garnier, A San Francisco Police Officer Shot To Death - January 27, 2013
- Mystery of SFPD vice cop's killing in Walnut Creek 30 years ago remains unsolved - July 11, 2018
- Death of Riordan alumnus shrouded in mystery - June 26, 2020
- Lester Garnier at Find a Grave