Body found on campus leaves Sonoma State on edge

Sonoma State University students and faculty were left stunned late last week by the discovery of a body near the Green Music Center. 

The remains turned out to be that of an 18-year-old missing Cotati man who was believed to be the victim of a homicide.

The body was discovered near parking lot M at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday by a landscaper for Sonoma State University who was working in an isolated area on the eastern edge of the parking lot closest to the Green Music Center. 

The body was found in what authorities said was a shallow grave. Due to the nature of the discovery, Sonoma State Police Services soon turned the investigation over to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

By late Thursday, the body was identified through fingerprint analysis to be that of Kirk Kimberly who investigators say had suffered multiple stab wounds. 

Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Duke said late last week that detectives believe the killing was not a random act of violence, rather a targeted murder. Officials did not give further information regarding the location of the wounds or the type of weapon used.

Kimberly was reported missing by his father on Oct. 19 and he was last seen leaving his home in Cotati on a white bicycle on Oct. 17. 

Police are attempting to figure out his whereabouts from Oct. 15-17.

This news has grabbed the attention of the local community, and as such, statements have been released by President Judy K. Sakaki of Sonoma State and Principal of Rancho Cotate High School Amie Carter, where Kimberly graduated this year.

“I want you to know that your safety and the well-being of our campus community is important to me and our leadership team,” said Sakaki in a statement released to Sonoma State students, staff and faculty on Friday. “We are taking this matter very seriously and are maintaining a dedicated, visible police presence on campus.”

Students said they were shocked by the news of the body being found and many were left feeling ill at ease.

“When I received the unfortunate news that a human life was taken then found on campus, I was immediately shocked,” said freshman business major Cameron Monroy. “As a first year student at Sonoma State, it was hard for me to process the information alone without the support and comfort of my family.”

Although the body was discovered on Sonoma State property, the incident appears to have no connection to the university. Kimberly was not a student at Sonoma State.

“I personally think it’s really creepy that we found a dead body on campus,” said Weston Henry, a junior physics major at Sonoma State. “It really opens your eyes and makes you realize how fragile life can be. It is incredibly sad that it happened to someone so young.”

The Police and Safety Services of Sonoma State University encourage those on campus to be vigilant, to be aware of their surroundings and to be sure to walk in well-lighted areas when traveling the campus at night. 

Students are urged to call SSU Police and Safety Services for an on-campus escort if one feels uneasy about walking alone.

Additionally, if students feel the need to talk with someone on campus about the recent tragedy, students are encouraged to reach out to the Counseling and Psychological Services at 707-664-2153.

“As a Sonoma State student, I’ve realized most of us live in a bubble here in Rohnert Park, but with a tragedy such as this, it really opened my eyes to the greater community we are apart of,” said JUMP Youth Programs Director Michelle Arnold. ‘Our community should come together and support one another as we are all affected by this incident.”

As of Monday afternoon, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department helicopters flew over Sonoma State continuing their investigation. They also seek community help in locating the victim’s bike, a white Cannondale Quick CX3 mountain bike, see the story on Page 4.

If you have any information about Kimberly’s disappearance or his bicycle, please contact Detective Joe Horsman of the Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Unit at 707-565-2185