San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a Poway man has been sentenced to 25 years-to-life for murdering a young woman in Carlsbad more than 35 years ago. Julia Hernandez-Santiago’s body was found on an ivy-covered embankment on Alga Road on Oct. 10, 1987. She was killed while walking home from a doctor’s appointment and was 26 years old at the time.
James Charles Kingery, 57, was found guilty by a jury last month of first-degree murder and rape charges. At the time of the murder, the San Diego County Medical Examiner determined the victim had been strangled. No suspect was identified at the time of the killing, but DNA collected from the crime scene led to Kingery’s arrest more than three decades later.
“The victim’s loved ones had their lives shattered by this horrific murder and have waited more than three decades for justice and some closure. Today they have it,” said DA Stephan. “This case highlights the important work done by our Cold Case Homicide Unit and the commitment of law enforcement in our region to solve murder cases no matter how much time has passed. I want to thank the prosecution team led by DDA Lisa Fox, the Carlsbad Police and Sheriff’s Department and their Crime Laboratory which working together solved this case.”
Kingery became a suspect after sheriff’s deputies arrested him in March of 2020 on drug and weapons violations. The felony arrest meant Kingery had to supply a DNA sample. Two months later, the sheriff’s crime lab notified Carlsbad police that Kingery’s DNA matched samples collected in 1987 during the homicide investigation. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Lisa Fox.
“It is important to recognize the tenaciousness of the Carlsbad Police Investigators over the years that never let this murder be forgotten,” said Carlsbad Police Chief Mickey Williams. “I also want to recognize and thank our partners at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department which made the successful resolution of this tragic investigation come to fruition. Lastly, I would like to share my condolences with the family of Ms. Julia Hernandez-Santiago who was taken from them way too soon.”
The DA’s Cold Case Homicide Division, , promotes public safety by working with local law enforcement to resolve unsolved homicides within San Diego County. The division works diligently and collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, including police laboratory criminalists. These partnerships are key to solving and successfully prosecuting cases where the trail has gone cold for years. The Cold Case Division mantra is “not forgotten.”
Since it was established in 2003, the Cold Case Homicide Division has played a role in solving and prosecuting numerous murders. The victims have come from all walks of life and from all areas of the county. The victims have included children and the elderly.