Sonoma State University

Man Arrested in 2016 Killing of Kirk Kimberly, Whose Body Was Found Buried on SSU Campus

Kirk Kimberly was 18 when he disappeared

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office

An arrest has been made in the high-profile 2016 killing of an 18-year-old Cotati man whose body was found buried in a shallow grave on the Sonoma State University Campus, officials announced Monday.

On Feb. 28, Daniel Carrillo, 20, of Rohnert Park, was booked into Sonoma County Jail in connection with the stabbing death of Kirk Kimberly. Carrillo was transported from a youth facility in Stockton on unrelated charges, Sonoma County Sheriff’s officials said.

Sgt. Juan Valencia said in a statement that Violent Crimes detectives had been conducting investigations over the past three years.

Kimberly was last seen by his family on Oct. 17, 2016. When he did not return home the following morning, his parents began searching the area, his mother, Jennifer Kimberly, told the Sonoma State Star in 2019. On Oct. 19, 2016, his father filed a missing persons report.

In the following weeks, Kimberly’s body was found in a wooded area behind the Green Music Center on campus. 

As the years passed without an arrest, Jennifer Kimberly never gave up hope. 

“[The case is] not cold. I can tell you it’s not cold,” she told the Star last year. “As the months have peeled off, there have been glimmers of hope.”

In September 2018 forensic investigator Johnny Kerns released a book on the Kirk Kimberly case, naming Carrillo as the suspect. Kerns said he used cell phone GPS data and information provided by sources close to the case to make this determination, but he doesn’t believe Carrillo acted alone. 

“The burial aspect gives me significant foundation for that belief,” Kerns told the Star. “If this were just a 16 or 17-year-old kid who killed Kirk, that kid probably would not have been able to dig that grave, undiscovered, and bury Kirk…”

Authorities have not announced any other suspects in the case. 

After the arrest, Jennifer Kimberly expressed her gratitude to law enforcement, thanking them for their hard work on the case. She also expressed her grief.

"I'm eternally heartbroken," she said. "I'm trying really hard to be strong, set an example, be loving, be forgiving... I miss my son."

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