REDLANDS – Two suspects were arrested for murder on Tuesday in connection with a February 2010 killing in which a burning body was discovered on a freeway frontage road.
Keith Julian Costella and Michelle Rebecca Luevano, both 21, were taken into custody for the death of Craig Kenneth Kubitz, 49. A search warrant presented at their home in Colton helped yield evidence in the death of the Fontana man, according to Redlands police officials.
Kubitz’s burning body was found just before midnight on Feb. 23, 2010 in a field off Reservoir Road, near Wabash Avenue and Interstate 10. Firefighters responded to a vegetation fire, discovering the burning remains in the process.
Retiring Redlands police Chief Jim Bueerman said the investigation that ensued was extensive. Investigators from the department’s Cold Case Unit took over the investigation this
year, eventually discovering that Kubitz worked with Costella doing odd handyman jobs.
It had taken police nearly 10 months to identify Kubitz’s body. Using DNA and fingerprints, matching dental records and circulating photos of a distinctive belt buckle worn by the victim, police got positive identification on Dec. 9, 2010.
“Providing investigators the time and resources they need to solve difficult cases such as this one – in which the victim, suspects nor the crime itself, have any real connection to Redlands – is the most effective manner to solve cases that have gone cold,” Bueerman said.
Kubitz was reportedly last seen on Feb. 18, 2010 in Fontana. One week later, his 1992 Volkswagen Jetta was discovered on Highway 18 near the mountain resort community of Crestline.
After conducting interviews with the suspects, police say that Kubitz went to the Highland-area home of Costella and Luevano on Feb. 18, 2010 to collect $700 that was owed him. Investigators said that Costella shot Kubitz at the home on the 7800 block of Tippecanoe Street, the residence of Luevano and Costella at the time.
The suspects kept the body for another five days before wrapping it in a tarp, loading the body into Luevana’s pickup truck, driving to Redlands where they dumped the body and doused it in gasoline before setting it on fire, police said. One day later, the suspects abandoned the victim’s car on Highway 18.
Costella and Luevano lived in the 2200 block of Cahuilla Street in Colton. They were taken to Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.
“The arrest of these individuals will bring closure for the family of Craig Kubitz,” Chief Bueerman said Wednesday, “and will, hopefully, assist them in rebuilding their lives after this tragic crime.”
Bueerman said police units owe victims of murder “and their loved ones the justice they deserve, but are frequently denied as a result of investigative problems and challenges that prolong investigators long past our desired time frame.”