On June 19, 2017, a Northern California single mom named Jennifer Coleen Moore vanished. Last seen at a local Walmart, the 41-year-old had left her young son with a friend while she went with her boyfriend to buy a car. She never returned.

  © Provided by The Daily Beast Butte County Sheriff’s Office

Four years later, Moore’s remains were discovered by a passerby in a remote area of Forest Ranch, an unincorporated community northeast of Chico. Now, Moore’s ex-boyfriend stands accused of her murder.

Dustin Kimball, of Magalia, California, was arrested in Chico during a traffic stop on Tuesday, and faces one count of homicide, according to authorities. The Butte County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to The Daily Beast that the 47-year-old was on the list of detainees being transported Thursday from the local jailhouse to the county courthouse, and would be appearing before a judge at 3 p.m.

The area has seen its share of high-profile murder cases in recent months. In May, a 37-year-old Butte County man was arrested for allegedly carrying out a serial killing spree in 2020. That same month, a 28-year-old Butte County man was arrested for allegedly killing his 63-year-old father. Last October, three men living in Butte County were arrested for allegedly carrying out a gruesome double murder.

During their investigation into Moore’s killing, detectives learned that Kimball and Moore had been “in a dating relationship prior to her death,” the Butte County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news release. “Detectives located evidence that gave them cause to believe that Kimball murdered Jennifer in 2017,” it states.

Kimball’s aunt, Karen Fruge, said she could hardly believe the news of her nephew’s arrest.

“We’re just shocked,” Fruge told The Daily Beast. “Everybody’s just in shock. I really, truly think that he was wrongly accused, in my opinion. Knowing him all my life, he’s like a big teddy bear. He’s very kind, he’s a very sweet boy. He’s a father, he has two kids. So, it’s just really sad.”

Others were less benevolent in their description of Kimball. Mattie Nolte, a hospice nurse who has known him for several years, told The Daily Beast, “I’m not shocked one bit.” Nolte declined to elaborate.

On social media, Kimball seemed proud of his children. In one 2020 holiday photo posted to his Facebook page, he can be seen smiling with a young girl, in front of a Christmas tree. But Kimball also appeared to have a darker side. About nine months after Jennifer Moore disappeared, Kimball posted a graphic to Facebook that said, “You don’t understand how much I hate myself.”

The same day, he posted a quote attributed to Katherine Hepburn: “Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”

A spokesperson for the Butte County Sheriff’s Office declined to provide additional details about the case. The investigation is ongoing.

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